HC Deb 14 May 2002 vol 385 c594W
Mr. Chaytor

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans she has to resume public access to the Public Record Office's 1901 census website; if she will make it her policy to produce the name index to the 1901 census on CD-ROM; what plans she has to digitise census records prior to 1901; and if she will make a statement. [54367]

Ms Rosie Winterton

QinetiQ Ltd. are the contractors who are responsible for the technical aspects of the 1901 census online. Since the closure of the site QinetiQ have been carrying out technical enhancements and, once this work is completed, rigorous testing will be undertaken on all aspects of the system. The enhancements are intended to make the site sufficiently robust to permit general Internet access and are being carried out with a sense of urgency. However, the most important consideration is to ensure that the service is re-launched successfully. The service will again be made available at designated service centres as part of the general re-introduction of the site. General on-line searches will be available as soon as practicable following testing and availability at the service centres.

The commercial aspects of the census website are also the responsibility of QinetiQ Ltd., who are currently evaluating the financial viability of producing the 1901 census on CD-Rom, in consultation with the PRO.

The PRO is planning to make the 1881 and 1891 census returns available on line as part of its wider strategy to digitise its major sources relating to family history by 2005. It is intended that, once the 1901 online census service is working satisfactorily, these plans will be taken forward in the current financial year.