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Census

House of Lords written question – answered on 12th May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to Written Answers by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 6 April (WA384-5) and 23 March (WA174), why the Polish population in Scotland and England of 1.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively was not considered sufficiently large to justify a separate tick-box category in England's census form; what is the estimated proportion of the Gypsy and Irish Traveller population in the United Kingdom; and what particular efforts were made to enumerate such nomadic peoples.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach Conservative

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Laird, dated May 2011.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking: further to the Written Answers by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 6 April (WA384-5) and 23 March (WA174), (i) why the Polish population in Scotland and England of 1.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively was not considered sufficiently large to justify a separate tick-box category in England's census form, (ii) what is the estimated proportion of the Gypsy and Irish Traveller population in the United Kingdom; and (iii) what particular efforts were made to enumerate such nomadic peoples. (HL8922)

(i) The questions and response categories in the 2011 census take account of an extensive programme of user consultation, question research, testing and development. There were many more demands for additional tick-boxes than could possibly be accommodated on the space available on the census questionnaire. Although the ethnic group question for the 2011 census was allocated more space than that for the 2001 census, there was not enough to enable tick-boxes to be provided for all the groups present in significant numbers in the UK. With space for only two new tick boxes, a set of principles was developed by which requirements for new tick-box categories for ethnic groups could be assessed and prioritised. These covered:

strength of need for information;lack of alternative sources of information;clarity and quality of the information collected and acceptability to respondents; andcomparability with the 2001 census data.

Polish scored well in the prioritisation exercise but not as well as the two new ethnic group categories that have been included. However people who want to record their ethnic group as Polish will be able to do so via the write-in option. They will also be able to record their national identity as Polish via the write-in option in the national identity question. Statistics from the 2011 census will include analysis of written-in responses, so all those who record themselves as Polish will be counted as being so in the resultant statistics.

Information about the prioritisation method is published on the census website in an information paper Deciding which tick boxes to add to the ethnic group question in the 2011 England and Wales Census. To coincide with the laying of the census order before Parliament in October 2009, additional material covering the questions to be asked in the 2011 Census was placed on the census website: http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-questionnaire-content/question-and-content-recommendations-for-2011/index.html.

(ii) It is too early for the census to indicate yet what the estimated population of Gypsies and Irish Travellers is. I understand that the Department for Communities and Local Government do have some estimates.

(iii) Special arrangements were made to enumerate Gypsies, Travellers and people in travelling fairs. In developing the plans to do so ONS worked closely with local authority Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officers, as well as with Gypsy and Traveller community groups. The enumeration of these groups seems to have gone well although we are not yet in a position to report on the numbers involved.

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