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1911 Census Records

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

My right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement:

“On 13 December, the Information Commissioner published his decision on the first of the complaints he has received in relation to the release of 1911 census records under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Information Commissioner upheld the complaint on the grounds that disclosure of the record requested would not constitute an actionable breach of confidence.

In response to this decision, the National Archives is developing plans for the release online of 1911 census information, with the exception of that considered to be sensitive personal information within the meaning attributed to it in section 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998. The 1911 census as a whole will remain closed until 2012, which means that the full census will not be available to order and research until this date. The National Archives views this as an appropriate response to the Commissioner's decision. The Government are concerned to maintain their longstanding commitment to keeping census records closed for 100 years following their creation. This closure period strikes an appropriate balance between the right of census respondents to have information they provide kept confidential, and the access interests of family historians. Therefore, information collected during 1921 and later censuses will be treated in line with this commitment.

The first digitised records from the 1911 census, excluding the sensitive personal information described above, could be made available online during early 2009. Individual requests for census records received while the digitisation process is taking place, but which are not available digitally at the time of the request, will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and the Information Commissioner's decision referred to above.”