HC Deb 23 January 2001 vol 361 cc567-8W
Mr. John M. Taylor

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about Government policy and administrative practice with regard to the destruction of the questionnaire forms that are to be delivered to households for the 2001 census of population for England and Wales. [146448]

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 M. Taylor, dated 23 January 2001: As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent request for a statement about the Government's policy and administration practice with regard to the destruction of the 2001 Census forms in England and Wales (146448). The traditional practice has been to retain the original completed census forms as a permanent public archive under the provisions of the Public Records Act 1958. As you are aware, such records are closed for 100 years under the further provision of the Lord Chancellor's Instrument no. 12 (1966). In agreement with the Public Records Office (PRO), it has been decided that it is more cost effective to archive the 2001 Census forms on microfilm for retention by the Office for National Statistics until the records are transferred to the PRO. This decision is entirely consistent with the PRO's current programme of microfilming its records of previous censuses, which is currently underway. Microfilming the 2001 Census returns will be carried as part of the contractual arrangements with Lockheed Martin for processing the 2001 Census. The 2001 Census forms themselves will be destroyed under strictly controlled and secure conditions once we are content that all the data has been captured and checked.

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