HC Deb 06 April 1971 vol 815 cc227-8
9. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services to whom data from the 1971 Census can be sold; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

Provided the data are subject to the conditions stated in my reply to the hon. Member on 23rd February, they can be sold to anyone able and willing to buy them. They are not sold otherwise.—[Vol. 812, c. 303–4.]

Mr. Huckfield

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that information. As I am sure he is aware, information from the 1960 Census was sold. How can he honestly maintain that, if this information is to be available on a basis of 100-metre squares, it can be confidential? Therefore, does he not agree that people who wish to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of their personal information would be well advised to risk the £50 fine and not to fill out the form?

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Gentleman staggers me by his irresponsibility. He has been assured that the information in the Census is not sold in any form that would allow of individual information to be available. The statistical tabulations are what is called, technically, disaggregated. I propose to set a minimum limit of size upon areas for which tabulations may be sold to meet the point which the hon. Gentleman raises. The hon. Gentleman behaves and speaks as if there were some malign intention behind what his own Government practised.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is a considerable amount of disquiet in general in the country about this? Although repudiating the exaggerated language used by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield), may I ask whether my right hon. Friend will try to assure the public that there is no danger that any individual or individual street could be identified?

Sir K. Joseph

I find my hon. Friend's method of putting this point entirely acceptable, because he is not suggesting a conspiracy by Government, as was the hon. Member for Nuneaton.