HC Deb 23 February 1971 vol 812 cc303-4
23. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what restrictions he proposes to place on the sale and use of 1971 census data for commercial purposes; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

No information about identified individual people or households is released to anyone outside the census organisation.

Census data published, sold or otherwise released are not analysed to such a level of disaggregation that information on individual people or households is disclosed. Publication of data from the census requires the permission of the Registrar General. These restrictions apply equally, whoever the user of the statistics.

Mr. Huckfield

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that fairly large sections of the last census were sold for commercial use? If he will not change the regulations about the sale of census data for commercial use, will he change the law which insists that people have to fill in census forms?

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. I assure the House that the information which was sold, and which under the law could be sold again, was in such a form that it was quite impossible for any individual identifiable information to be gathered by anyone who had access to the bought or released information.

Captain W. Elliot

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of anxiety about the amount of information which is required on the new census forms? Will he do his best to publicise the remarks that he has just made?

Sir K. Joseph

Yes, Sir.