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I am glad that the question on income has been dropped. It is clear that there was a lot of discussion. I think that the Government perhaps favoured our being forced to answer questions on it, which would have been very difficult. A lot of income comes from the black economy. You cannot really expect people to put, "This is my income from work but then, on the other hand, I do some other jobs on the side and this is how much I earn". I am not sure, therefore, that one would get an accurate view of people's incomes. People have all sorts of income, some of which they forget or do not want to put on a tax return. They will not fill in a census which, although they are told it is confidential, may lead to the taxman getting hold of some income that they have not declared to him. I am glad also that the question on sexual proclivities has been dropped, because there are so many of them. It would require a very long list of questions to get a true answer.

However, I am concerned that these intrusive questions should not be put about by other means. While they will not be included in the census, it is clear that there is curiosity among the Government about people's incomes and how they behave themselves sexually. I would like the Minister to give me the relevant assurances.

My final point echoes one raised by the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan. Our population since the end of World War II has risen by more than 15 million, much of it taking place in the past five years. Consideration should be given to taking censuses at shorter intervals. It might not be as dear as one would think, because a lot of surveys about various things are being done up and down the country in the interim, and they cost money, too. While we might on the one hand incur additional costs because the census would be conducted at shorter intervals, we could save money on the other because there would be less need for individual surveys on various items. In the hope of one or two assurances from the Minister, I shall sit down.

Baroness Crawley: I thank noble Lords for a robust, vigorous and detailed discussion. That was as it should be because, as the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, said, this is an extremely important subject. Like the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, I am a little disappointed that more Members of the House were not interested in it, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Bates, said, the census will influence not millions or billions but trillions of pounds of spending by the public sector during the next 10 to 12 years. So it is big stuff.

I start by saying that I have good news for Lady Stoddart, which is that she will be able to put "English" as her nationality on the census. I hope the noble Lord will be able to give her that news. I ask noble Lords for their patience with my replies because there is quite a bit to get through.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, asked about costs and whether there was a possibility of a reduction in them in the light of the economic climate that we are

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experiencing. Costs have been drawn very tightly by the ONS and its contractual programme. It has already spent 20 per cent of that sum of £480 million, 50 per cent is further committed to fixed-price contracts and any further reduction would impact on the quality of the census population estimates. I go back to the point, which we have all appreciated, that the quality of these statistics will influence an enormous amount of spending over the next decade. Therefore, the quality has got to be right. We must not skimp or cut corners, as the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, put it, on quality-it is the main point that we have to keep our eye on.

Lord Bates: My question was to ask why the cost had increased from £211 million to £482 million. What was the justification for that?

Baroness Crawley: The short answer is that the main reasons for the increase are the extra £150 million due to inflation, the £25 million due to growth on numbers of people or households, the £25 million for the extra page of questions for each person, the extra £45 million for improvements in field systems and processors-those actually working on the 27th, making sure that the hard-to-reach people are visited and that censuses are delivered and sent back-and the extra £20 million for improved help facilities, publicity, community and local authority liaison, with a variety of other smaller changes and improvements. I hope that answers more fully the noble Lord's question.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, also asked about the justification for the cost as a general question. The full 2011 census business case has been produced, which will fully justify the census investment. For a subset of the different uses, the benefit has been assessed as exceeding £700 million. This is thought to be a significant underestimate of the total benefits.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, talked about the assumptions that were made about the level of response when awarding the contract to Lockheed Martin. We believe that we will get a 94 per cent overall response, and that was the assumption when awarding that contract.

The noble Lords, Lord Bates, Lord Maclennan and Lord Stoddart, raised the issue of security and the awarding of the contract. The contract for the census was awarded to Lockheed Martin UK as it offered the best value for money in an open-procurement scheme carried out under European Union law and EU procurement directive. The company has a good track record on census work, having supported the 2001 UK census. All persons acting in any capacity for the UK Statistics Authority in the conduct of the census will be covered by the same stringent confidentiality restrictions as are applied to members of the Office for National Statistics themselves. There are severe penalties, as the noble Lord, Lord Bates, was saying, for breaches of census confidentiality laws. No Lockheed Martin employees will have access to the data.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: Presumably a department of state-the Office for National Statistics, for example-was given the opportunity to tender for the contract.



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Baroness Crawley: I am happy to write to the noble Lord about this, but it is not our belief that the ONS could tender for the sort of work that Lockheed Martin will do. I shall go into that a little more. Lockheed Martin UK is the prime contractor. It has engaged a number of specialist UK and EU subcontractors for the different components of the contract. The main ones are Polestar for the printing-so the ONS would not necessarily be appropriate there-UK Data Capture for the scanning and the data processing, Cable and Wireless for the communications and the data centre, bss for the contact centre, Logica and Steria. I hope that answers the noble Lord's question.

Lord Maclennan of Rogart: If the company is going to be responsible for the customer contact centre, how is it not going to be in touch with information that is going to be contained in the census?

Baroness Crawley: The ONS has put in place additional contractual and operational arrangements in this contract to ensure that the US authorities could not gain access to census data through, for instance, the Patriot Act. These arrangements include that all data processing will be carried out in the UK, no data will leave or be held at any point outside the UK, all data are the property of the ONS and only UK/EU-owned companies will have access to the personal census data. The only people to have full access to the full census data set in the operational data centre will be the ONS staff.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, asked about response rates for the recent census rehearsal. The responses are still coming in so the number is increasing, but at the moment they are at around 35 per cent. This is lower than hoped, although we have to remember that this, unlike the census, was a voluntary exercise. The ONS anticipated a much lower response than we will get in 2011, because a compulsory response will be much higher. After a promising start with response rates ahead of expectations, returns are now levelling off and lag behind expected levels. But the rehearsal is voluntary, and known hard-to-reach areas were selected for the rehearsal, which also tips the result. The exercise was not spread across, as it were; those areas were selected for the rehearsal as being hard to reach.

6.15 pm

Follow-up activities have concluded with census collectors calling on households that have not responded in order to obtain a response, and this follow-up has increased the response rate considerably. A number of measures have been taken to rehearse the actions that we will take in 2011 to increase response rates, and research is now under way to discover why response rates are lower than expected.

Another question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Bates, was how many people are expected to respond online. The current assumption is that around 25 per cent are expected to do so. Perhaps I may give noble Lords a few comparisons. Canada achieved 18 per cent in 2006. Scotland offered online completion for its rehearsal in March 2009 and had an 11 per cent internet response rate without any real publicity campaign advertising that the internet was available. However, in

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the England and Wales rehearsal, only around 9 per cent of returned responses have been made via the internet. Again, there was little publicity about the internet option. ONS is building the system to cope with 6 million returns. If more people try to use the online system at once than the system can cope with, new users will be asked to try again later. This is called "graceful deferral". However, the answer to the noble Lord's original question about assumptions is 25 per cent.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, also asked how many of the data are estimated-he rather bated me by using the word "guessed"-as opposed to actual. He may be thinking of a figure that was quoted during a recent Public Accounts Select Committee by Professor Rees. The professor now accepts that the figure was wrong and has requested that a change be made to the Public Accounts Select Committee transcript. Six per cent of people did not return a census questionnaire in 2001. On top of this, 4 per cent of census data were missing from the returned forms and had to be imputed. This means that 10 per cent of the total census data set had to be imputed, not 40 per cent. Therefore, we are saying that the estimate was 10 per cent in the 2001 census, not 40 per cent.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, asked about published response rates from the rehearsal. At present-they are still coming in-the figure is 35 per cent. He also asked about the assumptions made about calls to the helpline and what steps are being taken. Many steps have been taken to reduce the likelihood of a crisis of calls to the contact centre. In addition, there will be a self-help website, reducing the burden, we hope, on the telephone contact centre. So we are hoping to learn from the lesson of 2001.

The noble Lord talked about the complexity of the forms and asked whether that reduced the response rate. He asked why, for example, the questionnaire was so long. Widespread consultation by the ONS shows that there is a demand for far more questions than could possibly be accommodated. As the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, said, the number of pages per person has gone up from three to four, but this is due partly to making the layout of the pages clearer. The number of columns has been reduced from three to two, which makes the form easier to complete. The 32-page booklet for households contains forms for six individuals. In 2001, the booklet had forms for five individuals. Therefore, fewer households will need to request further forms from the ONS.

The issue of visitors has also been raised. Visitors had always previously been counted but not in 2001; before 2001, full details were collected. In 2011, only a small set of questions will be included in order to reduce the burden on the public. We are asking the question about visitors to enable an accurate count. We believe there was an undercounting in 2001 because the fact that people were visiting homes other than their own was not taken into account. We have learnt this key lesson from 2001; the question about visitors on the night is important.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, referred to the 2001 census not accurately counting the population and asked how this would be dealt with in 2011. There are

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more questions about visitors, residents, second addresses and so on, which will enable a better, more accurate measurement, and there will be a much better follow-up to non-response. We are focusing the enumerators on those hard-to-count areas. They will physically go to people in real time and say, "Have you any problems? Are you able to fill in your form? How can we help?" That will, we hope, institute a far better follow-up than in 2001. Local liaison will identify hard-to-count areas and we will increase the hours spent on follow-up to non-responding households. In that way, we will develop an improved register.

The noble Lord, Lord Bates, referred to 7 per cent of respondents not completing a form but only a few being prosecuted, and asked what steps we are taking to improve the situation. There will be a dedicated non-compliance staff to strengthen the process. In 2001, it was part of the regular field staff's responsibility to caution people, but this time there will be a dedicated non-compliance staff and prosecutions will be pursued in cases of persistent refusal to respond.

The noble Lord said that the 2001 e-mail support was inundated and asked how provisions could be made to improve it in 2011. Online help is available and is expected to reduce demand on public help facilities. E-mail queries will not be supported in 2011. I shall write to the noble Lord on that. I am confused by that answer and he may well be too. I shall make sure that he has a written answer.

On the question of what steps ONS has taken to avoid spam e-mails, ONS will never request information from the public via e-mail and we will make this publicly known. I was asked how many enumerators we envisage for 2011; the answer is 35,000. I do not have at hand the numbers who will have the right to caution, but there will be a dedicated team within those enumerators with that right.

Why do we ask the question about the number of bedrooms? It is to provide a more accurate and comparable measure of overcrowding. The two older measures of overcrowding were the space standard and the rooms standard. These can now be expanded to include the bedroom standard. This is explained in the Government paper Tackling overcrowding in England: An action plan, published by CLG in December 2007.

The charity Shelter has urged the Government to use the bedroom standard to measure overcrowding. Overcrowding, as noble Lords will know, is an indicator of housing deprivation. Living in overcrowded conditions is associated with adverse personal and social health effects. Information will be essential for taking forward work on decent homes. There is also a direct link with the allocation of improvement grants for local authorities. The question will help to ensure that resources are directed to the areas of greatest need.

The noble Lord also asked about dealing with frivolous answers-for example, the Jedi issue in 2001. It is a legal requirement to complete a form correctly. However, if a person believes themselves to be a Jedi knight, the ONS must make use of those data. ONS publicity nearer to the census will aim to counter any such campaigns arising by highlighting the benefit to communities of having an accurate census.



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I hope that that has answered the noble Lord's questions. If I have left any out, we will look at Hansard.

Lord Bates: That was masterful. It was a wonderful answer to a series of complicated and focused questions. I am very grateful to the Minister.

Baroness Crawley: I thank the noble Lord. The noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, asked why there will be no impact assessment. As no business or voluntary body will be required to undertake any duty that the ONS believes might prove detrimental to their work, delay their normal day-to-day business or place an additional cost upon them other than asking the manager of any commercial establishment to hand out or collect questionnaires to any usual residents and then complete a short questionnaire in respect of their establishment, the ONS believes that the 2011 census impact on the private or voluntary sector will be minimal. The noble Lord talked about it taking half an hour to complete a form; I have seen in my briefing reference to 10 minutes, but we will see. An impact assessment will be published before the census regulations are laid in the spring of 2010, so there will be one before the regulations.

Other countries have a five-yearly census, and the noble Lord highlighted those countries. Given our highly mobile population, particularly considering the money being allocated, why would we not have a five-yearly census? There were proposals for a five-yearly census in 1976, 1986 and 1996, but they were all rejected on cost grounds. The ONS is currently reviewing the option beyond 2011, so there will be a review of how we take it from here, given the issues that the noble Lord raised about the great changes in our society-the electronic changes, the ethnic changes and the way our country looks now compared with how it looked 10 years ago. There will be a review of whether a 10-yearly census is the way forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, asked about stakeholders being consulted on costs. Stakeholders were widely consulted on the pros and cons of different options. Population-estimate quality is paramount. This cost and this level of investment are required to provide data of a profoundly excellent quality.

The noble Lord asked about competition for preparations in order to reduce costs. Fifty per cent of the census costs are for outsourced services, all of which have been subject to full competitive tendering. If the noble Lord wants more information on that, I shall be happy to correspond with him.

6.30 pm

The noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, took as an example the Arab tick-box and asked why it should not say "Arab/White" or "Arab/Mixed". He reflected with us on what it will be appropriate for people to tick both now and in the future, given our increasingly mixed community. At present, we say that people should tick the mixed or multiple options. There is always a space to write in, so if people think that none of the options refer to them, they can always use the blank write-in space, and that will have to be used as part of the statistical dissemination.



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The noble Lord talked about questions relating to national identity and spoken English-for example, "How good is your English?"-and asked how subjective and not necessarily convincing answers could be measured. It is true that if English were not my first language, I might think that it was better than someone else considered it to be. The main purpose of the national identity question is to encourage participation in the census by allowing respondents to express their identity in a manner that is meaningful to them. English language proficiency has been well tested. A lot of surveys and testing have been carried out by the ONS and have shown that information of sufficient quality has been provided for the respondents. Therefore, it may not be perfect but it is of a sufficient quality.

The noble Lord also asked about the workplace address where people have more than one job, and he quoted the contract plumber who moves around. People should give the workplace address for their main job, or state that they have been based at home in the case of the plumber who moves around. This will be made clear in the instructions within the question.

I was asked how the questions were chosen. The key requirement for the 2011 census is to provide a robust estimate of the population count and a benchmark for key population statistics on a consistent and comparable basis for small areas and small populations. The specific criteria used by the ONS for judging the priority for topics to include in the census are set out. User need is one; others include data needed for small geographies of populations, a lack of alternative sources to the census, and UK comparability-there is a need for UK-wide outputs. Continuity with previous censuses is also very important. A lot of users want continuity; they want to see trends over 10, 20 and 30 years to decide what services they need to provide. Respondent burden and costs are criteria that are taken into account, as are operational requirements, population-based requirements, international recommendations, equality legislation and use for coding and derivations.

I think that I have already dealt with the issue of the Lockheed Martin employees.

The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, was concerned about the confidentiality of the census data. Personal census data are kept confidential at all times and released into the public domain only after 100 years. The ONS takes very seriously the confidentiality of any individual's information and it has a 200-year track record of maintaining census confidentiality. The information is used only for statistical purposes, and anyone unlawfully disclosing personal census information will, as we have said, be liable to prosecution. The noble Lord referred to the recent troubles in another place. However, the data are even exempt from the Freedom of Information Act under Section 40 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act. Confidentiality is written into primary legislation. All persons acting as agents for the UK Statistics Authority in the conduct of a census will be covered by the same stringent confidentiality restrictions as apply to census officers themselves. There are penalties for breaches.

Completed questionnaires will be posted back or returned securely online. They will be seen only by those census staff responsible for processing data.

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Data from the census will be held securely and, under the current policy, will be treated as confidential for, as I have said, 100 years. The paper questionnaires will be destroyed in a controlled manner. Some specialist researchers are allowed supervised access to record data under licence, but not until they have signed confidentiality agreements. I hope that that answers the noble Lord.

The noble Lord has said that government data have been lost; that is true. He said that he would need assurances that data will not be lost by the ONS or by contractors. The ONS has a two-year history of protecting personal data. It is an utmost priority for it to continue to ensure security. Any possible threats have been assessed and tested to destruction, but obviously there are still possibilities. We shall just have to keep a very

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close eye on the situation, and extensive measures have been put in place to address such problems.

The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, asked whether data will be stored on discs or memory sticks. All USB ports on computers with access to census data will be disabled.

The noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, asked whether he could be identified as Scottish, British and European. The national identity question on the census form will allow multiple responses.

I hope that I have covered most of the questions that noble Lords have put. I thank them for an important debate, and I am sure that we will meet again when the regulations appear, should this order go through.

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 6.37 pm.


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