§ 5. Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to bring forward proposals for arrangements for the 1991 census.
§ Mr. Bennett
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there will be the widest possible consultation about the questionnaire that will be sent out with the census? Will he assure the House that, as in previous censuses. all the information given will be kept confidential?
§ Mr. Moore
I can certainly confirm that there will be consultation, and I remind the House that it is an offence under the Census Act 1920 for information on individuals to be released for use other than for census purposes. That includes the community charge.
§ Mr. Bowis
Will my right hon. Friend pay attention to the need for information on the elderly, particularly the very elderly, so that the opportunities presented by increasing longevity can be met by the old people themselves and by the local health authorities that will be seeking to plan for them?
§ Mr. Beith
Will the Minister consider the suggestion that we made at the time of the 1981 census: that the legal requirement to answer questions should be restricted to a very small number of questions, rather than to pose people with the threat of criminal sanctions merely because they do not want to say where their father was born or provide an answer that is not essential for the Government's purposes?
§ Ms. Richardson
In connection with the census, bearing in mind that more and more women are being forced into unpaid work, such as caring for elderly and dependent relatives, and as the voluntary sector is becoming increasingly important because of the failure to provide essential public and consumer services, will the Minister respond to the pressure from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, following the forward-looking 7 strategies after the United Nations Decade of Women, and ensure that the 1991 census form includes provision for voluntary as well as paid work to be counted?
§ Mr. Chapman
Will my right hon. Friend give some sign in the White Paper of the likely time when the evaluation of the census results will be made known to the public? Will he try to ensure in this computer age that the results will be available in weeks rather than the apparent years that it normally takes, during which time most of the information becomes out of date?
§ Mr. Moore
I shall want to consider that when we discuss the White Paper later this year. The details are not yet settled, but I would expect preliminary reports on the size of the population, about which I know my hon. Friend is interested, to be published as soon as possible after census day. Key results will be available to local authorities by May 1992, and I hope that the first national reports will be published before the end of 1992.