HC Deb 27 March 1991 vol 188 cc449-50W
Mr. Paice

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements are being made in the 1991 census to protect the confidentiality of forms for households where the enumerator is known to them.

Mr. Dorrell

Census officers have been given a general instruction not to place enumerators in enumeration districts where they are likely to be widely known. However, there are some places where—because of the geography of the area or the shortage of applicants—it is impossible to do otherwise. More particularly, in some remote rural areas it may be necessary to appoint an enumerator who lives in the locality.

The Census Regulations 1990 provide a facility to cover such situations: the form filler may ask for an envelope in which the completed form may be sealed before it is collected; the enumerator is prohibited from opening it. Enumerators are instructed to offer a sealed return envelope if they come across anyone they know.

The same facility is available under the Census (Scotland) Regulations 1990.

Mr. Paice

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in deciding which small voluntary follow-up surveys will use the 1991 census as the sampling frame.

Mr. Dorrell

Initial proposals for such surveys were given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health in December 1989 during the debate on the draft Census Order, cols. 10–11, Report of Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. The state of progress on each of the surveys mentioned in these initial proposals is given later. No others are proposed.

Plans are well advanced for surveys to check the accuracy of census information, the completeness of electoral registers and vacant accommodation in Scotland.

A research proposal has been produced for the Department of Environment on the proposed surveys in England on households occupying privately rented accommodation and households sharing accommodation. If these surveys go ahead, the field work will be carried out in late 1991 and early 1992.

Discussions are also being held with relevant departments on follow-up surveys of people with nursing qualifications and paramedical qualifications but not employed in these specialisms and of persons with social work and probation officer qualifications. Decisions on whether these surveys should go ahead will be made in early 1992. The census will not now be used as the sampling frame for a survey of out-of-service teachers.

The information leaflet to be delivered to each household with the census form in the 10 days before the census on 21 April includes the following statement: A very small sample of people and households will be asked to take part in one of several voluntary surveys. One survey will help the Census Offices check how well the Census itself worked. The other surveys will gather fuller information than it is possible to collect in a Census. Information gathered in any such survey will be handled entirely within the Census Offices. It will be treated in the same strict confidence as information given on the Census form.

The confidentiality of information collected in these surveys will now be covered by the Census Act 1920, as amended by the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991, which received Royal Assent on 7 March.

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