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Census

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2010, Official Report, column 792W, on the Census, (1) after what time on Census night a guest will be deemed to be an overnight visitor; (322880)

(2) what imputation will be made in relation to overnight visitor data; and whether she has made an estimate of non-compliance with requirements relating to overnight visitors.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated March 2010:

As the Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking, pursuant to the Answer of 8 February 2010, Official Report, column 792W, on the Census, after what time on Census night a guest will be deemed to be an overnight visitor. (322880); and pursuant to the Answer of 8 February 2010, Official Report, column 792W, on the Census, what imputation will be made in relation to overnight visitor data; and whether she has made an estimate of non-compliance with requirements relating to overnight visitors. (322909)

The Census (England and Wales) Order 2009 sets out the legal responsibilities for who must be included in a census return. Guidance printed on the questionnaires directs householders to include anyone who is not a usual resident and who is staying over night to be recorded as a visitor, it is left up to respondents to interpret what staying over night means in relation to their home, as this is a well recognised concept.

Recording information from visitors who are staying overnight at an address where they do not usually live will help to provide an accurate population count. Together with the new questions on second addresses this will avoid us undercounting or overcounting people, and help us to produce the most accurate figure of the population living in local areas.

ONS is only planning to impute data relating to over night visitors where a visitor has been recorded on a census questionnaire, but where there are missing data items. No estimate has been made of non-compliance with the requirement relating to overnight visitors.