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Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further tests are being planned for the next census of population.

The recently published White Paper (Cmnd. 7146) sets out proposals for a census of population in 1931. In order to plan and carry out the census efficiently, the census organisation needs to obtain experience of new questions and procedures, and to gauge public reaction to them. A voluntary test census is therefore being planned for next April and will involve some 65,000 households in the London borough of Haringey. This test will take the place of the April 1978 test, which was cancelled. I hope that everyone approached to take part in the test will do so. The answers given in these voluntary tests will be entirely confidential and no information about individual persons or households will be passed outside the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.The forms to be used in the test will be based on the results of a series of tests begun in 1977. Specimen forms will be placed in the Library of the House of Commons when they become available.In addition, smaller scale tests of particular features of the census take place from time to time. These include the current tests of alternative forms of an ethnic question, referred to in paragraph 25 of the White Paper.