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Ms Buck: Although I accept the point that the helpline was improved, on a number of occasions people left messages or made contact saying that they had not received a return call, or said that it had taken many, many calls to secure information. I do not expect an immediate answer, but I should be grateful if my hon. Friend could let me know what monitoring was carried out of the information received through the helpline, so that we can establish why some cases were not followed up promptly and accurately and forms were not despatched.
Ruth Kelly: Of course, I shall take note of the points made by my hon. Friend. I can assure her that I shall look into that issue and reply to her.
As I was saying, there was an extremely high return of formsabout 90 per cent. of the forms delivered. Field staff returned to households, as planned, to retrieve forms that were not returned by post. The ONS estimates that 95 per cent. of all forms are now back and that most of the remaining 5 per cent. relate to vacant addresses.
Following the census, the census coverage survey took place between 24 May and 17 June. The outcome was better than the rehearsal, with a national response rate of more than 90 per cent. The exact figure for the number of people counted in the 2001 census will be available in August 2002, when information from the census forms, the enumerators' books and the results of the census
When the results of the census and the census coverage survey have been analysed there will be a set of figures for each local authority area that will be comparable and consistent. Any under-counting of particular groups will have been kept as low as possible and, where it exists,
I believe that the census will meet its objectives and that local authorities, including Westminster, will not lose out when the final count is in and the strategy as a whole bears fruit.