To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to his answer of 18 December 2003, Official Report, column 1112W, on the 1911 Census, for what reasons the 1921, 1951 and 1961 census records for England and Wales are listed in Public Records Act Instruments No. 5, No. 23 and No. 38; and whether those census records are closed to public inspection solely under the provisions of Public Records Act Instrument No.12.
Under S.3 (4) of the Public Records Act 1958, public records are usually transferred to the National Archives or an approved place of deposit not later than 30 years after their creation. However, they may be retained in departments if they are required for administrative purposes or another special reason. In these cases departments have to obtain the approval of the Lord Chancellor, after he has received the views of his Advisory Council on National Records and Archives. The present position is that Lord Chancellor's Instruments numbers 38 (1996) and 63 (2001) sanction the retention of the 1921, 1951 and 1961 census records by the Office for National Statistics for administrative purposes.
Lord Chancellor's Instrument number 12 (1966) gives effect to the closure period of 100 years, which applies to decennial census returns.