Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [HL]

Explanatory Notes

Commentary on provisions of Bill

Clause 1: Amendment of the Census Act 1920

29 This clause amends the Census Act 1920 insofar as it extends to England and Wales to enable the asking of voluntary census questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.

30 Subsection (2) adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the Schedule of the 1920 Act. This means they are specified as matters in respect of which census questions may be asked in England and Wales and any such questions will be subject to the draft negative procedure.

31 Questions on sexual orientation and gender identity could already be asked in the England and Wales census under paragraph 6 of the Schedule to the 1920 Act. Adding these matters is intended to clarify this existing law and to make clear to which matters the removal of penalties in subsection (3) relates. As a consequence of the statutory scheme, this amendment means that the Parliamentary procedure to which such questions are subject will change from draft amendable affirmative to draft negative. This amendment does not require questions on these matters to be asked in future censuses.

32 Subsection (3) amends section 8(1A) of the 1920 Act such that no person shall be liable to a penalty under section 8(1) of that Act for refusing or neglecting to state any particulars in respect of sexual orientation or gender identity – effectively making any such questions voluntary.

Clause 2: Amendment of the Census Act (Northern Ireland) 1969

33 This clause amends the 1969 Act to enable the asking of voluntary questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in Northern Ireland.

34 Subsection (2) adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the Schedule to the 1969 Act. This means they are specified as matters in respect of which census questions may be asked in Northern Ireland.

35 Questions on sexual orientation and gender identity could already be asked in the Northern Ireland census under paragraph 8 of the Schedule to the 1969 Act. Adding these matters is intended to clarify this existing law and to make clear the matters to which the removal of penalties in subsection (3) relate. It does not require questions on these matters to be asked in future censuses.

36 Subsection (3) amends section 7(3) of the 1969 Act such that no person shall be liable to a penalty under section 8(1) of that Act for refusing or neglecting to state any particulars in respect of sexual orientation or gender identity – effectively making any such questions voluntary.

Clause 3: Extent, commencement and short title

37 This clause specifies the territorial extent of the Bill and when its provisions come into force. See ‘Commencement’ and Annex A for further details.

 

Prepared 26th June 2019