§ Mr. Reid
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will make a statement on her reasons for asking the Registrar-General to institute a feasibility study into the extension of the electoral registration canvass to include such questions as age, sex, marital status, and nationality; and what instructions she has given to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of any such answers.
§ Dr. Owen
The up-to-date demographic information now required both nationally and locally for the efficient allocation of resources and for planning for the future cannot be produced from existing sources of information with the accuracy required. The proposed feasibility study will, therefore, identify what essential information is needed, the questions which might be asked to provide this information, how any enhanced electoral registration canvass might be carried out, and who should be responsible for it. I cannot anticipate the outcome of these studies or what questions might be asked in the canvass, but in his report to me the Registrar-General will take full account of the privacy and confidentiality issues and the need to keep down costs.