Skip to main content

Population

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 5 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Met Office publication Barometer (issue 9, page 12), what is the correct proportion of the United Kingdom population who live in cities; what figure is used for rural proofing of legislation; and whether the Office for National Statistics has been consulted on this subject.[HL3821]

The figure stated in Barometer (issue 9, page 12) that 80 per cent of the UK population lives in cities refers to the percentage of the UK population that lived in urban areas as at the 1991 census, rather than to the population that lives in cities.

Using the rural and urban definition published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2004, the ONS has identified that 81 per cent of the UK population as at the 2001 census lived in built-up areas that contained 10,000 people or more. This includes those people who lived in UK cities in 2001 but also those who lived in smaller towns that had a population of over 10,000.

Using the rural and urban definition, 19 per cent of the UK population as at the 2001 census were identified as living in rural areas. These figures of 81 per cent and 19 per cent are used across government when referring to populations in urban and rural areas. The Government develop policies for the whole country, rural and urban. The relevant tool in relation to rural proofing is the rural and urban definition, which enables the outcomes of government policies to be assessed in both urban and rural areas.

The Office for National Statistics has been consulted, as it published the rural and urban definition and, using this definition, it published the statistics that stated that 81 per cent of the UK population as at the 2001 census lived in urban areas and 19 per cent lived in rural areas.