The report by the House of Commons London Regional Committee on their only inquiry into London’s population and the 2011 census was published on 31 March 2010 (HC 349). This Government did not re-establish the Regional Committees. They recognise the importance of providing a response to Parliament on the issues raised by the Committee. The majority of the recommendations in the report were for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Two of the Committee’s recommendations were for Government and this written ministerial statement provides the Government’s response. The other recommendations were for ONS and I have placed today a copy of its response in the Library of the House.
This Government have serious concerns about the 2011 census introduced by the previous Parliament. Having given the issue serious consideration, and the costs already incurred, the 2011 census is the only way that unique information can be provided to meet essential UK and EU requirements in the given timeframe at no extra cost than that budgeted. It is important that the 2011 census goes ahead and this Government will continue to promote the importance of the public engaging with the 2011 census.
Given the highly mobile nature of the population, the UK Statistics Authority recognises the increasing difficulties and costs in carrying out a census. The authority has therefore instructed ONS to urgently work on developing alternatives, with the intention that the 2011 census is the last of its kind.
Recommendation 21 of the Committee’s report was dealt with by the previous Government, with my predecessor writing to the Chair of the Committee shortly before the report was published.
Recommendation 14 of the report was on the need for the census address register being developed by the ONS for the 2011 census to be maintained after the census. The previous Government failed to deliver a definitive address register, despite the demands for such a register and the associated costs of inefficiency in maintaining a number of similar registers. This Government are working with the parties concerned and will look to deliver a definitive register. Considerable progress has already been achieved. The work ONS has done will form part of the solution.