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Volume 450: debated on Thursday 26 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will discuss with his Cabinet colleagues means of enabling the provision of departmental data broken down according to his Department's definition of rurality; and if he will make a statement. (94460)

A research project co-sponsored by several Government departments and other bodies resulted in the publication of the “National Statistics Rural and Urban Definition 2004”. This new rural definition identifies the different types of settlements in which people live in rural areas. The definition can be used with other information, such as housing type, car ownership and household incomes to give a valid means of understanding how these measures vary within rural areas.

The new definition is accepted across Government, and is recognised as the Government standard by the Office for National Statistics. It was agreed after a public web-based validation exercise, and marks a big step forward in developing our evidence base and statistical toolkit for rural areas.

I have written recently to Ministers to promote the further use of the definition in their Departments’ work.