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11 May 2006 : Column 484Wcontinued
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the Registrar General's conclusion, dated 18 February 2004, regarding the effect of the release of the 1911 Census before 2012 on public trust in statistical confidentiality; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: I have today placed in both Libraries copies of correspondence between my Department and the Office for National Statistics to which the hon. Member refers. No formal assessment was made in response to the letter of 18 February 2004. The Governments view is that a closure period of 100 years strikes the right balance between the access interests of family historians and the right of citizens to have the personal information about themselves in their census returns kept confidential. Maintaining the security and confidentiality of the information that citizens supply about themselves in their census returns is of paramount importance. It remains government policy to make census returns publicly available after a period of 100 years.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the Registrar General's proposal, dated 18 February 2004, to enshrine a 100-year census closure rule in primary legislation and (b) the implications for that proposal of
the principles of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: There are no current plans to enshrine a 100-year census closure rule in primary legislation.
Mr. Kemp: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many nursery and creche places are provided for people working in her Department; what charges are made for the provision of such services; and what other facilities are provided for children of employees of her Department. 
Bridget Prentice: My Department has 37 bought-in nursery places and during the past year provided74 holiday playscheme places. The Department offers a25 per cent. subsidy towards nursery places anda 50 per cent. subsidy towards playscheme places. The total cost was £43,712.05 during the last financial year. £34,253.88 was spent on subsidised nursery places at a cost of £1,200.00 per child; and a total of £9,458.17 for subsidised playscheme places at a cost of £127.00 per place. The Department has participated actively in an inter-departmental working party in collaboration with the Daycare Trust to establish the Civil Service Childcare Toolkit.
David Simpson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what opportunitites exist for people to work beyond retirement age in her Department. 
Bridget Prentice: My Department has a retirement policy which explicitly states that if a member of staff below senior civil service level wishes to work beyond the normal retirement age of 65 we will normally agree to such a request subject to the normal standards of health, efficiency, conduct, performance and attendance being met. Individuals may not work beyond the age of 70 except in exceptional circumstances. The normal retirement age in the senior civil service is 60. However, the Department retains members of the senior civil service if it is judged to be in the public interest to do so and it is satisfied as to the fitness and efficiency of the individual to carry out his or her duties. This flexibility allows the Department to meet its business needs, retaining valuable knowledge and skills, while giving staff as much choice as possible about when they retire.
John Mann: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many General Election marked registers were not available (a) six months and (b) nine months after the 2005 general election. 
Bridget Prentice: The only marked register that was unavailable in either the six months or nine months following the 2005 General election was Woking, which was missing in its entirety.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what percentage of those eligible to vote were registered to vote in each local authority in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years. 
John Healey: I have been asked to reply.
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 11 May 2006:
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions regarding (1) the size of the electorate and the registration rate in each local authority in (i) England, (ii) Wales, (iii) Scotland and (iv) Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years; (2) the percentage of those eligible to vote who were registered to vote in each local authority in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years and (3) the total electorate for (a) the Vale of Clwyd and (b) Denbighshire in each of the last 10 years. (68582, 64195 and 65905)
Firstly, please allow me to explain why it has taken a little while to reply to your questions. I understand from the House of Commons Library that you are most interested in Parliamentary electorate by local authority. This is not a standard output so it has taken some time to collate the data and ensure it is on an equivalent basis. This is further complicated by different data being available for England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Electoral data are held locally by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), the Electoral Office Northern Ireland (EONI) and for England & Wales the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Regarding the question on total electorate for Denbighshire and the Vale of Clwyd, we do not normally publish data on total electorate (rather we publish local/European electorate and separately Parliamentary electorate data). For years up to and including 2001, data are not held electronically in a form that enables us to calculate 'total electorate'. Therefore, in order to obtain the data you requested we have referred to the annual paper returns from Denbighshire to collate the necessary data.
Historical UK Electorate by LA
Electoral data are available on the number of people registered to vote in Parliamentary elections and also on the number of people registered to vote in local/European elections. Annual population data are only available on a usual residence basis: the mid-year population estimates. Since population data are available by age, the mid-year population aged 18 and over can be calculated. Thus it is possible to calculate an estimate of the registration rate using the percentage of the usually resident population, aged 18 and over who are registered to vote as either Parliamentary or local/European electors).
It is not possible to 'split' estimates of the usual resident population in order to give estimates of the population entitled to vote. We do not hold data (e.g. populations of non-EU citizens) that enable us to produce such a split.
The attached tables (one for each year), therefore, provide information, for each local authority in the UK, on (i) the annual usual resident mid-year population; (ii) the size of the (a) Parliamentary electorate and (b) local/European electorate; and (iii) the percentage of the estimated usually resident population aged 18 and over who are registered to vote as (a) Parliamentary electors and (b) local/European electors. These are labelled as registration rates on the tables and this term is used in the remainder of this reply. These data provide the closest available approximation to the information you requested. It is
not possible to calculate the percentage of the eligible population who are registered to vote: the resident population aged 18 and over is not the same as the number of people eligible to vote.
This registration rate is not a published National Statistic: there are a number of issues that mean care needs to be taken when interpreting the data. In particular care needs to be taken when considering local authorities where the usually resident population differs radically from the population eligible to vote. An example of such a local authority is Forest Heath. There are a large number of United States Air Force personnel, contractors, and dependants in Forest Heath who, as American citizens, are not eligible to vote. These people are however included in the population estimates as they are usually resident. Therefore, the estimated registration rate calculated for Forest Heath is considerably reduced. However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in order to aid comparisons of the resident population of voting age and the number of people who are registered to vote, does calculate 'registration rates' on occasion in the manner outlined above.
The attached tables give comparisons between the number of registered electors and annual mid-year population for the ten years up to mid-2004 (the latest available population estimates for the UK) for all local authorities in the UK. Each table shows a comparison against Parliamentary electorate (where available) and against local/European electorate. The availability of Parliamentary electorate by LA differs by country as this is a non-standard output. Data availability also differs from year to year. Recent improvements to the way the data are held for England and Wales mean these data can now be calculated for more recent years. For England and Wales data on Parliamentary electorate by LA, for years prior to 2002, could only be calculated by reference to individual paper LA annual returns and would involve disproportionate cost. For Scotland, 2004 data on Parliamentary electors by LA will be available shortly and we will provide you with an update of these tables when they become available. For Northern Ireland data on Parliamentary electors by LA are not currently available.
In order to give an estimate of the number of electors at the mid-year point, 30 June, a weighted average is taken of the two closest sets of electoral data. This gives the best possible comparison with the population estimates. Footnotes to the tables indicate the formulae used to calculate these weighted comparisons.
Attainers have been excluded from the electorate data to give the best possible comparison. Therefore, the data may differ to that published elsewhere.
We have also updated the data where there are known (small) errors in or updates to previously published data. This means that the attached data provide the best possible comparison.
The local/European electorate gives a better comparison than parliamentary electorate to the usually resident population as EU citizens are included and UK citizens resident abroad are excluded from the local/European electorate. However, a number of other difficulties remain when comparing these sources. For example not everyone who is usually resident is entitled to vote (foreign citizens from outside of the EU and Commonwealth, prisoners, etc. are not eligible) and people who have more than one address may register in more than one place (e.g. students may register at parental and term-time addresses). These factors may have a differential impact from place to place.
There is also inevitably some double counting of the registered electorate (both parliamentary and local/European) as electoral registration officers vary in how quickly they remove people from the registers after they have moved away from an area or after they have died. This is the main reason some areas show apparent rates in excess of one hundred per cent.
In order to aid comparison two further tables are attached that show the estimated registration rates for all ten years. Table A shows these rates for Parliamentary electors and Table B for local/European electors. However, any comparison of these data across years should be made carefully as electoral legislation and other changes (such as EU expansion) can change the size of the electorate.
A copy of the tables will be placed in the House of Commons Library.
The tables provide as comprehensive as possible comparisons between historic local authority population and electorate numbers. I understand from the House of Commons Library that you are also interested in the percentage of residents who are registered to vote on a Parliamentary constituency basis. Official Report number 82 column 1719, 12 December 2005, provides the best possible consistent UK comparison for Parliamentary constituencies. For England and Wales we hope to investigate the possibility of producing population estimates by Parliamentary constituency in the future using Small Area Population Estimates. For Northern Ireland, population estimates by Parliamentary constituency are already available from the Northern Ireland Statistical and Research Agency (NISRA). You may also be interested in the Electoral Commission study Understanding electoral registration: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/templates/search/document.cfm/13545.
Total Electorate for Denbighshire and Vale of Clwyd
The table below provides the requested 'total electorate' information for Denbighshire and the Vale of Clwyd, for the past 9 years. The total electorate figures shown here are those who are registered to vote as either Parliamentary electors, or local/European electors., or both.
Data for 1996 are not readily available. The data are derived from data as reported by Denbighshire, and for years up to and including 2001, have been collated from the original paper returns.
|Total electorate for Vale of Clwyd and Denbighshire 1997 to 2005|
|Total electorate( 1)|
|Year( 2)||Vale of Clwyd||Denbighshire|
|(1) Total number registered to vote as parliamentary or local electors, combined. (2) Data for years up to and including 2000 relate to 16 February, data for 2001 and subsequent years relate to 1 December. Source: Office for National Statistics|
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the outcome of the pilots for postal voting. 
Bridget Prentice: Although it is too early to make a full assessment, initial indications suggest that the pilots of administrative changes to the postal voting process at the May 2006 local elections have been conducted successfully. The Electoral Commission will formally evaluate the pilots and report by 3 August 2006.
Julie Morgan: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many matters were started under Legal Services Commission contracts in civil law, in each of the financial years 2000-01 to 2004-05, broken down by category of law; and what the projected total is in each category for 2005-06. 
Vera Baird: The following table shows the number of matters started as reported by solicitor firms and not for profit suppliers, including community legal service direct, for each financial year since 2000-01. The number of matters started differ slightly from what has previously been published in the Legal Services Commission's (LSC) annual reports as matters started during the year are still reported after the publication of the annual report, and the annual report does not include new matters started through community legal service direct.
|Number of matters started as reported to the LSC by solicitors' firms and not for profit suppliers|
|Category of law||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06 (projected total)|
Matters started in the immigration and asylum category are not reported as part of civil law. However, the matters are still started as part of the general civil contract. The matters started in this category are in the following table.
|2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06 (projected total)|
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