Treasury written question – answered on 5 April 2005.

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Photo of Mr John Taylor Mr John Taylor Conservative, Solihull

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer

(1) if he will instruct the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to provide substantive answers to Questions concerning decennial censuses after consulting the Registrar General;

(2) whether Treasury Ministers have used their powers under section 2(1) of the Census Act 1920 to control and direct the Registrar General since 1990;

(3) whether the necessary permission to retain the (a) 1981 and (b) 1991 census records for England and Wales in the Office for National Statistics once they are over 30-years-old has already been granted by the Lord Chancellor.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I am the Minister responsible for the population census. Day-to-day responsibility rests with the Registrar General, who is also the National Statistician.

All Parliamentary questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer are answered substantively. It has been the practice of successive Administrations for many years to delegate questions concerning the census to the Registrar General for answer by letter. All such letter answers are printed in the Official Report.

The Registrar General undertakes his functions under section 2(1) of the Census Act 1920 and of any Census Order or Regulations made under the 1920 Act. His powers to carry out the census are subject to the control of, and in compliance with, any Ministerial direction by virtue of Section 2(2) of the 1920 Act. The Registrar General has regular meetings with the relevant Minister to discuss census-related issues. The Government's proposals for the 2001 Census were published in a White Paper (The 2001 Census of Population", Cm 4253) in March 1999. Parliamentary authority for the 2001 Census was subsequently given by virtue of the Census Order 2000 (SI 2000/744), the Census Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1473), the Census (Amendment) Order 2000 (SI2000/3249), and the Census (Amendment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/3351).

I understand that no application has yet been made by the Registrar General to the Lord Chancellor, under the provisions of section 3(4) of the Public Records Act 1958, for him to retain the records from the 1981 or 1991 Censuses once they are over 30-years-old.

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No1 person thinks not

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