§ Mr. Lidington
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if the Office for National Statistics authorised the use of Government-held personal records about(a) asylum seekers and (b) other categories of people during compilation of the 2001 census returns; 
(2) what guidance was given by the Office for National Statistics to census enumerators about access to information held by the Government about individuals; 
(3) what his policy is on the rules governing the access of census enumerators to individual personal information held by Government Departments. 
§ Ruth Kelly
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. David Lidington, dated 20 November 2001:As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking:
- 1. whether the Office for National Statistics authorised the case of government-held personal records held about (a) asylum seekers and (b) other categories of people during the compilation of the 2001 Census returns (16336);
- 2. what his policy on the rules governing the access of census enumerators to individual personal information held by government departments (16337); and
- 3. what guidance was given by the Office for National Statistics to census enumerators about access to information held by the Government about individuals (16338).In response to the first question you will want to be aware that the Registrar General is authorised by the terms of the Census Act 1920 to conduct a census in England and Wales.The Census Order 2000 (Statutory Instrument 2000 no. 744) made under Section 1 of the Census Act, prescribes the persons by whom and in respect of whom the returns are to be made. Returns were required to be made in respect to all persons who are usually resident 274W in England and Wales. For the purpose of the 2001 Census a person was regarded as being 'usually resident' in England and Wales if he or she was present at an address in England and Wales on census night and had no other usual address in England and Wales or elsewhere. This would, therefore, generally include asylum seekers, and thus the Census Act imposed a duty on me to collect returns from such people.The Census Regulations 2000 (Statutory Instrument 2000 no. 1473), made under section 3 of the Act, empowered the making of any such arrangements as the Registrar General thinks fit for the collection of the particulars prescribed by the Census Order to be stated in the returns.For this purpose, the Registrar General was able to make arrangements where necessary to acquire information from official sources on the location of accommodation that housed asylum seekers and on other population sub-groups (such as rough sleepers), which would enable forms to be delivered and collected in respect of such people who might not otherwise be aware of their statutory duty to make a return or have access to the forms.In all cases the provision of such information would have been a matter for the data custodian of that information. The subsequent uses of the information for Census purposes were within the terms of the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, and the strict confidentiality provisions of the Census Act as amended by the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991.In answer to your second and third questions, there were no provisions or arrangements made in the conduct of the 2001 Census for access to any individual personal information held by Government departments or agencies by census enumerators, and consequently no guidance given to enumerators on any such access.