Mr. John M. Taylor
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what powers researchers may be informed of personal details from closed decennial Census forms; and what limits are placed on the use of information from the 1971 to 1991 Census forms. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. John Taylor, dated 28 July 2000As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking under what powers researchers may be informed of personal details from closed decennial Census forms; and what limits are placed on the use of information from the 1971 to 1991 Census forms (131722).Under the provisions of Section 8(2) the Census Act 1920 as amended by the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991, it is an offence for the Registrar General or any person who is either under the control of, or a supplier of any services to, the Registrar General to disclose any personal census information without lawful authority. Strict safeguards are maintained to protect the confidentiality of personal census information handled by persons either working for the Registrar General or providing services on his behalf. All such persons are required to make signed undertakings to fulfil the obligations required under the provisions of the Act and any Regulations made under the Act.Information under the 1971 to 1991 Census returns may be published as reports to Parliament or abstracts under the provisions of Section 4 of the Census Act. Confidentiality thresholds are applied to the population of small areas below which no census information other than simple headcounts is made available. Other measures are taken to minimise the risk of inadvertent disclosure of information about identifiable individuals or households.Pursuant to Section 5 of the Census Act, a number of researchers are permitted to come to ONS to undertake statistical analyses of census information regarding the number and condition of the population from the Longitudinal Study. They may only work on projects that have previously been approved by the Longitudinal Study Research Board and may only access Study data under supervised conditions on the ONS site. Such data do not contain details of names and addresses. The only outputs allowed are tables of aggregated data and statistics at a level that precludes identification of individuals or households. Hence no information which identifies individuals or households may be released from ONS premises at any time.The Office for National Statistics maintains a confidentiality policy of only providing access to data from those records for which it is responsible that conforms to the provisions of both data protection and freedom on information legislation.