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Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 24 October 2007

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what preparatory work has begun in (a) Southend on Sea, (b) Essex and (c) England for the 2011 census; what representations he has received since 2005 on that census; and if he will make a statement. (159648)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 24 October 2007:

The National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what preparatory work has begun in (a) Southend-on-Sea, (b) Essex and (c) England for the 2011 Census; what representations he has received since 2005 on that Census. I am replying in her absence. (159648)

Preparations for the 2011 Census in England and Wales include:-

Consultations earned out in 2002-2003 on the need for a Census;

Formal consultation launched in May 2005 on the content of the 2011 Census;

Publication in March 2006 of approximately 2,000 responses to the consultation on content;

Formal consultation on ethnicity, identity, language and religion launched in December 2006;

Publication of summary of responses to the consultation on ethnicity, identity, language and religion October 2007;

Programme of individual question development;

Small-scale tests of questions;

Development of the 2007 Test questionnaire;

Launch in September 2005 through the Official Journal of the European Union of the procurement process for the contract to support the 2011 Census, covering

Printing of questionnaires, information leaflets and envelopes;

Data capture;

Internet capture/coding;

Questionnaire tracking;

Operational intelligence support;

Contact centres.

Development of new procedures;

Postal delivery of questionnaires;

Development of a robust list of addresses/households;

On-the-ground address checking operation before census;

Internet collection option;

Post-back to a single central location;

Central questionnaire response tracking and fast receipting;

Two-way field communication systems; and

More effective and flexible field operation.

2007 Census Test held on 13 May covering 100,000 households within five local authorities—Bath and North East Somerset, Camden, Carmarthenshire, Liverpool and Stoke-on-Trent Test Evaluation report to be published in early 2008;

Formal consultation on Small Area Geography launched in November 2006;

Address Register evaluation;

Planning for Rehearsal in 2009; and

Planning engagement with stakeholders including an increased role for local authorities and local authority chief executives.

We recognise that for the engagement to work really effectively it will be important to get the support of local authority chief executives, particularly in view of the financial implications associated with Census results. We are working with a sub group of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) Electoral Matters Panel, of which the Chief Executive for Southend-on Sea, Robert Tinlin is a member. Mr Tinlin wrote to the National Statistician in April asking how we could best work together to achieve a successful Census and in her reply the National Statistician suggested that after we had done some evaluation of the Test, a meeting should be arranged between Ian Cope, the Census Director and Mr Tinlin. They were scheduled to meet in September at the next meeting of the SOLACE Electoral Matters Panel Census sub-group but I understand the meeting has been postponed until 13 November.

Specific areas identified for working in partnership with local authorities include:

Address Register development to ensure fullest coverage;

Enumeration intelligence for targeting of delivery methods and follow-up resources;

Identifying and developing Community Liaison contacts;

Recruitment and logistical support; and


We recognise that not all local authorities would have the same resources to commit to working with us in all these areas, but we are keen to explore the potential for working with both Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Essex County Council.

A draft Local Authority Engagement Strategy is currently being reviewed by the Local Government Association and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Representations concerning the 2011 Census have been primarily in the form of responses to widespread consultations carried out since 2005 on the topic content of the Census, including in particular ethnicity, identity, language and religion, and the future policy on the use of small area geographies for National Statistics. Other than the responses to the consultation, some 650 pieces of correspondence have been dealt with since 2005. These have focused primarily on the topics and questions to be included in the Census, confidentiality, and from local authorities enquiring about our plans for enumeration of their areas.