§ Mr. Speaker
Before calling upon the Secretary of State for Social Services to move the motion, I should inform the House that the debate on it does not extend to the order as a whole. It is limited to those parts of the schedule to the order which are specifically referred to in the motion—and which, for the convenience of the House, are printed in italics—and to the proposed amendments to them.
I have selected the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) and the two amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant). Under the procedure set out in the business motion, to which the House agreed earlier, I shall call those hon. Members to move their amendments formally at the conclusion of the debate. Of course, they may speak to them if they are lucky enough to be called during the debate. Because each of the amendments is so drafted as to follow on from the end of the motion, if one of them is agreed to, any later ones will need to be moved in a slightly altered form.
§ The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. Patrick Jenkin)
I beg to move,That items 5, 6, 8, 10, 11(1)(d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j), 11(2), 12(a)(vii), 15 and 16 of Schedule 2, items 5, 6, 8, 10, 11(1)(d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (i), 11(2), 12(a)(vii), 15, 17, 18 and 19 of Schedule 3, and items 2 and 3 of Schedule 4 to the Order in Council, entitled the Census Order 1980, a draft of which was laid before this House on 20 March, be approved.In Britain, there has been a census every 10 years since 1801, with the sole exception of 1941 when the nation was at war. The census is the most important source of statistics we have. It is the only comprehensive stocktaking of our manpower resources. The information gained is used for all manner of policy decisions, not only in national and local government but also by outside bodies. For example, the rate support grant and the National Health Service alone involve the allocation of well over £15 billion each year, and it is the census which provides the basis for that allocation.
Decisions where to put new schools, where to build roads and where to pro- 1302 vide hospitals and other social services are based in large measure on information derived from the census.
It is important to put these points on the record right at the outset, because the census involves an invasion of privacy. Therefore, on coming into office the Government determined to examine afresh the need for each question which our predecessors had suggested in their White Paper of July 1978, Cmnd. 7146, should be included. As a result of this scrutiny we have made a number of changes to simplify the census and to reduce the cost. I shall discuss these, and in particular the questions on which amendments have been tabled.
First, it is important to emphasise that the questions in the census form will not appear in the style in which they appear in the schedules to the order. I draw the House's attention to the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys Monitor, CEN 80/1, which sets out how the questions are likely to appear in the census form itself. I have ascertained that copies of the monitor are available in the Vote Office.
If the order is passed by both Houses—it has already been passed in another place—regulations will be made covering the detailed conduct of the census, and they will be laid before Parliament. It does not seem to me that it would be particularly helpful for me to go through each and every one of the questions which it is proposed to ask in the census. I anticipate that a number of hon. Members wish to participate in the debate and I intend to be quite brief. The areas covered are set out in the schedules to the order, and are more clearly described in the OPCS Monitor, to which I have already referred. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary hopes to catch the eye of the Chair, towards the end of the debate, and will be pleased to answer any detailed questions that I do not cover.
In the rest of what I have to say, I shall cover two main topics. First, I shall refer to the questions which we have decided not to ask, and give the reasons. Secondly, I shall deal with the issue of confidentiality, which is one to which I know hon. Members on both sides of the House attach a good deal of importance.
1303 As I have said, on coming into office we examined rigorously each of the questions which our predecessors had suggested should be included. In addition to the ethnic questions, we identified three topics for which census information did not appear to be essential. They are the questions covering the weekly hours usually worked, school level qualifications, and the number of cars and vans available for the use of the household.
We found that it was possible to drop the separate question on weekly hours usually worked and simply distinquish between full-time and part-time jobs. This will make that part of the form a good deal easier for the public to complete.
Similarly, the question on school level qualifications, primarily of interest to the Ministry of Defence, did not on balance seem to the Government to be so essential that the question had to be included, and it, too, has been dropped.
The question about the number of cars and vans available for the use of the household was another question that seemed, at first sight, to come into the same category. However, since the draft order was laid before the House, I have received a good many approaches from both sides of the House, and from the local authority associations, asking that the question be reinstated. The same point was made by a number of their Lordships when the order was debated in another place.
It is argued that if the question on cars and vans is not in the census, many local authorities will feel that they have to carry out their own surveys to obtain this information for themselves. The total cost of these surveys could well exceed the savings which would have been achieved by omitting the question from the census. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and I are persuaded that these arguments make a convincing case for reinstating this question.
Amendments to deal with this point have been tabled by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) and my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant). The amendment of the hon. Member for 1304 Stoke-on-Trent, Central, though first on the Order Paper, is not drafted in a way that meets the precise point put to us by the local authority associations. If my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North catches the eye of the Chair to move his amendment, I shall ask the House to support it as it meets a need.
By far the most significant of the items which we have decided not to include in the draft order are the ethnic questions. It does not surprise me in the least that there should be an amendment on the Order Paper, that in the name of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) and some of his hon. Friends, seeking to reinstate these questions. I am afraid that I cannot advise the House to accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment. Although I am advised that it is technically defective, I do not take my stand on that point.
My advice to the House is based on our view that it would be very unwise to seek to obtain information about ethnic origin from the census. Although our predecessors had come to the provisional conclusion that such a question should be included, their final decision would have depended on the findings from tests to see whether the questions commanded public acceptance and would give reliable results. I might add that in addition to the tests, to which I will refer in a moment, the OPCS has consulted a great many bodies representing ethnic minorities. There has been a substantial discussion on the issue in the national press and elsewhere, and the Department received, in addition, a great many letters from individuals.
As the House knows, some of the bodies mainly concerned with the ethnic minorities in Britain, such as the Commission for Racial Equality and the Runnymede Trust, have pressed very hard for the inclusion of the questions. The Government, for their part, would have been very keen to have the information which the census might have yielded as it would undoubtedly have been of help in identifying localities where deprivation is linked with the existence of a high proportion of the population coming from the ethnic minorities.
However, I have to tell the House that the tests for an ethnic question which have been carried out have forced us 1305 reluctantly to the conclusion that it simply is not practicable. There were a series of tests, culminating in a major test census in Haringey a year ago. That test aroused a great deal of controversy. Only 54 per cent. of the households returned their forms, as against the 70 per cent. response that previous experience would have led one to expect. Of the ethnic minority households that returned the completed forms, many did not answer the questions correctly, or answer at all the questions on ethnic origin, or the alternative question on parents' country of birth. Moreover, the questions on nationality and year of entry were also poorly answered.
There has been a good deal of discussion in the press and elsewhere on why this should have been so, and the reasons are certainly complex. In part, it was undoubtedly anxiety about the use to which some future Government might put the information that they gained. In part, the reasons lie in the natural reluctance of people to be regarded officially as in some way a special minority problem, different from the rest of the population. In part, they lie in the fact that increasingly we are dealing with the second generation of the immigrant population, who are very reluctant to see themselves as anything other than black British. Whatever the reason, it has become clear beyond a per-adventure that none of these questions would be viable if they were asked in the census.
I come to the question of confidentiality. It has to be remembered that the census is compulsory, and failure to answer the questions renders one liable for a penalty. In these circumstances, the Government have to be doubly careful to pose questions which are not regarded as offensive, or which would be likely to give alarm, or be an unwarrantable intrusion into privacy. If we sought to ask such questions, there would be a real risk that the census itself—not just the ethnic questions—would be put in jeopardy. Even among those who favoured an ethnic question in the census, there was no agreement about the form that such a question should take.
Accordingly we were very reluctantly forced to the conclusion that we had no option but to abandon the ethnic questions. The census simply is not the right means for obtaining proper information about ethnic origin.
1306 Yet, as the House knows, the need for the information remains, but we shall have to rely for it on other methods such as sample surveys. Although, in theory, such sample surveys will not provide as reliable information as would accurate answers in the census itself, the experience with the Haringey test census indicates that in practice the national census would fail in this purpose.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the vast majority of the people want to know how many immigrants there are in this country and where they are, for various reasons, and that if the question is not asked in the census—my right hon. Friend has demonstrated that it is very difficult to ask it—they will be very concerned that the facts and the figures are not available, because people, not in this House but in the country, believe that there has been a long-term conspiracy to prevent the people of this country knowing the size of the immigrant population among us at the moment?
§ Mr. Jenkin
My hon. Friend would not expect me to endorse the conspiracy theory, although I have of course studied very carefully the arguments that have been advanced in support of it over the years. But I can tell him that there are a number of methods which can be used and which would give more reliable information on the size, location and nature of the ethnic minorities than would putting a question in the census.
The method being considered at the moment by the OPCS for providing estimates of the various ethnic minority populations will be based on a number of sources, including the household composition and country of birth analyses from the census itself, statistics from the registration of births and deaths under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, statistics on own and parents' country of birth and assessment of colour from the voluntary general household survey, and a number of others. The Government recognise the need for these figures, but these are more reliable ways of getting them than putting questions in a census, which simply would not be answered accurately.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Is it correct that the return on the ethnic question which was asked in the general 1307 household survey was well over 90 per cent.? I think it was 97 per cent.
§ Mr. Jenkin
I cannot confirm or deny that figure. Perhaps my hon. Friend will deal with that when he winds up. Certainly a voluntary return of that sort seems to be very much more acceptable to people than putting a question into a compulsory census, which, as I have said, is subject to penalties, and so on. That is why we have decided that we cannot proceed with these questions in this census but can rely with a reasonable degree of confidence on the information that comes from other sources.
§ Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
If a British nationality Act is introduced and that abolishes the concept of dual nationality, will not everybody in this country have to answer fairly similar questions eventually?
§ Mr. Jenkin
I am not sure how far that would take us. They may have to answer questions on nationality, but if the ethnic minorities in this country are asked what nationality they are the vast majority will answer "British". They might put down "black British" but they will put down "British"; and if the object is to decide whether they represent, therefore, a concentration of deprived ethnic minorities I do not think it will take us very much further. With the greatest respect to my hon. Friend, I do not think that asking questions about nationality is neccessarily the right way to get information.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
Perhaps it would help my right hon. Friend's argument if he would be good enough to tell us something about the experience of asking an ethnic question in such countries as the United States, Canada and Australia. Has that experience been successful or has it been a failure?
§ Mr. Jenkin
I am not sure how far I can help my hon. Friend on that or how far the information would be relevant, because I know enough about the ethnic problem in the United States to know that it is of a very different nature from ours, with a comparatively recent immigration population, where there are quite different sensitivities from those which apply to the much longer-established ethnic minority populations in the 1308 United States. Canada may have a parallel situation. But our own experience, based particularly on the Haringey survey—1 was living in the borough at the time and reading the local papers every week and had experience of the row myself, and I think that hon. Members who represent the constituencies there will confirm this—was that the controversy that the existence of the questions aroused was such that the answers turned out to be wholly unreliable. I think that that is why it is not possible for us to proceed in that way this time.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, West)
I think that what confuses us is why the survey stuck to Haringey and why a cross-section of opinion was not taken from a far wider area, particularly in the Midlands. Why was Haringey in particular chosen for this test?
§ Mr. Jenkin
Provisionally it was intended that there should be two tests, one at Slough and one at Haringey. In the event, the Slough survey was not proceeded with because it was impossible to get the support of the authorities there. This was all done by our predecessors, of course. Haringey was chosen because it was thought to include a wide cross-section of several different ethnic minorities and, therefore, within the confines of one borough where the test could be organised effectively and efficiently, it was thought that this would give a fairly good idea of the likely outcome of a national survey if the results were projected on a national scale.
§ Mr. Marlow
My right hon. Friend said that he wanted an effective and efficient sample in one area of the country. Is it not possible that those who opposed the idea of an ethnic question in the census would have a single-minded and effective campaign in that area, and that in a country-wide census the result would be nothing like the results of the Haringey test? Therefore, the Haringey test is very misleading.
§ Mr. Jenkin
I disagree with my hon. Friend. If we had attempted to repeat nationally either of the questions asked in the Haringey census, the results would have been so unsatisfactory that we could have placed no reliance on the answers. That by itself would not have been fatal, It also showed that if there is a suspect 1309 question in the census that will lead suffice in the localities concerned, will the people to fail to answer the questions as a whole. As the information in the rest of the census is so important for so many purposes, we felt it was not right to risk jeopardising it when there was doubt about the ethnic questions. This was the view of both sides of the House.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
If there is no attempt to find out about the ethnic minority, bearing in mind that the last census is now out of date, can other methods suffice? Even if they suffice in the localities concerned, will the rest of the population in the country as a whole have a picture of the position?
§ Mr. Jenkin
In answer to the first intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), I gave an indication of some of the other methods available to local and national authorities to gain the kind of information that might be sought from the census. Maybe the hon. Member for York will have something to say about this if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but all the evidence suggests that the results would be a great deal more reliable than would anything we had from a test census question. We want the information in as accurate a form as possible. That is not the way to get it.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
Will my right hon. Friend say how reliable were the answers to the questions on the ethnic groups in the 1971 census?
§ Mr. Jenkin
There was no ethnic question in the 1971 census. This was the change proposed by our predecessors, and had it proved practicable we would certainly have included it. I have made clear all along when discussing this matter that we would want to have the information in the most accurate form possible for all the reasons mentioned by hon. Members. However, we have been driven reluctantly to the conclusion that this was not the way to get it.
May I conclude with a few words about the question of confidentiality for the census? I know that a great many people attach a lot of importance to this. The central point is that the census is designed to provide information about the nation, not to provide the Government with information about individual 1310 people. The names and addresses that go on the census forms are never released outside the census office, nor are they entered on the computer records. There are severe penalties for any census official breaking the rules about improper disclosure of information from the census. That is the first and most important safeguard. Experience shows that the rules are virtually universally observed, and the OPCS knew of only one prosecution for breach of the rules, 10 years ago.
There are other safeguards. People who do not wish other members of their household to see personal information will be able to obtain their own individual forms. Further, anyone who does not want the census enumerator to see his completed form will be given an envelope in which to seal it, and the sealed envelope must then be passed unopened to the local census headquarters. In 1971 there was an additional facility for returning completed forms in the envelopes by post, but unfortunately this did not work well and will not be repeated in 1981.
The fact is that a good many people failed to send in their forms, or sent them in with items missing, and the measures necessary to correct this require an additional tier of regional organisation and would cost some £600,000 in England and Wales alone, more if Scotland were included. Even then, with these added efforts, it would not achieve the same accuracy as the traditional method of collecting the forms on the doorstep.
In practice, very few difficulties arise from this method. Efforts are always made to ensure that census enumerators work in areas away from where they live and, although one cannot rule out the possibility of an enumerator calling on a family that he or she knows, the rules about handing forms in in sealed envelopes are strictly observed and subject to penalties.
After the census has been taken, the forms will be locked away for 100 years, and only then will they be made available for general inspection by the public. In theory, I suppose that this might be described as a breach of confidentiality, but the forms are of great value to historians and genealogists, and it is felt that 100 years after the date the advantage outweighs the disadvantage.
1311 The census office possesses an outstanding record in maintaining a high standard of confidentiality of personal information provided by the public. The information collected in the 1981 census will be afforded the same high degree of protection as hitherto.
In one respect, security will be enhanced. The registrars-general have taken account of the recommendations of representatives of the British Computer Society, made after the 1971 census, for increasing the protection of the computer records. The physical security at the OPCS computer installation has been reinforced, and a new computer operating system, with more built-in safeguards, will prevent unauthorised access to the information held. We are again inviting the British Computer Society to report on the security arrangements being made for the 1981 census, and this should be added reassurance.
I hope that the House will agree that the census is necessary, and that the questions which it is proposed to be asked are justified. I ask the House to approve that part of the order that requires affirmative assent, and, if it is called, to support the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
There is an overriding necessity for a census. It is extremely important. It will cost £45 million at 1978 prices, and will therefore prove a costly exercise. It is important because, as the Secretary of State said, the information will affect not only the National Health Service and the rate support grant, but the planning of new towns and the dispersal of our population.
Previous censuses have highlighted the inadequacy of our housing stock. The Secretary of State would probably agree that basic changes have been made to the proposals in the 1970 census. Several items—including the year of first entry into the United Kingdom for those not born here, the country of birth of father and mother, address five years previously, school qualifications, the person's occupation one year previously, whether the dwelling has a piped hot water supply, kitchen sink and cooking stove, and the number of cars and vans available for 1312 use by members of the household—have been excluded. The Secretary of State told us that he has met the pressure that is being exerted by hon. Members from both parties, by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and by the Association of County Councils. It is interesting that several key questions have been dropped from the survey.
Questions affecting ethnic minorities are probably crucial. The Opposition would like a suitable question to be asked in the survey. Such a question might provide an answer to the rumours and false information that circulate throughout the country. Sometimes such rumours appear to have an official basis. However, people make up their own figures and information. It is difficult to find the right question. The Secretary of State fairly stated that the proposed question used in the Haringey experiment had been put forward by the previous Labour Government. Ministers in that Government spent much time and effort in attempting to find an acceptable question. If one sits down to frame such a question, one finds it exceedingly difficult.
The basis of our society has changed. Ten years ago it was possible to tell an immigrant's ethnic group—whether that immigrant was from Malta, the West Indies, Asia and so on—by asking his country of origin. Today, many of those who have come from overseas are married and have children. As a result, they rightly consider themselves British and members of our society. Many of them would like to be asked " Black British or white British? " However, such a question would not meet the needs of the Asian community.
My hon. Friends the Members for Wood Green (Mr. Race) and for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) know of the difficulties involved in the Haringey experiment. They had no difficulty in ascertaining the correct answers, but they experienced some difficulty as a result of reactions to particular questions. There was a poor response to the questions that were asked.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
Putting the same question to the right hon. Gentleman as I put to my right hon. Friend, may I ask how reliable were the answers to the questions included in the last census about country of origin?
§ Mr. Orme
I understand that the answers to those questions were fairly satisfactory. However, we are moving into different territory, and we must recognise that.
When the experiment took place, we still wanted to find a suitable question. We cannot yet suggest a suitable question that will have wide acceptance in the community, but it is necessary to do so. The attitude of the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) in a sense only puts fear into many immigrants. They feel that if the information fell into the wrong hands, was misused or abused it could threaten sections of the ethnic minority.
§ Mr. Marlow
The right hon. Gentleman should not talk about my attitude when he does not know what my attitude is.
§ Mr. Orme
The Government are right at this stage not to put the question in because there is not yet a suitable question. However, we feel that the information is necessary. We are at one in wanting to elicit it, although there may be a disagreement over approach, which no doubt my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) will follow up.
On 28 April, referring to the Bristol disturbances, the Home Secretary said:Second, therefore, the Government particularly welcome the decision of the Select Committee on home affairs to look into racial disadvantage and, as part of that work, to study the St. Paul's area of Bristol. We shall do all we can to help the Select Committee in this work.—[Official Report, 28 April 1980; Vol. 983, c. 972.]More than the Select Committee is necessary, if it has not been possible over the past 10 years to get information through the census that is still needed from certain areas.
The Government should give financial support to such organisations as the Runnymede Trust to attempt to get the information from areas such as Bristol, parts of London and Birmingham.
§ Mr. Orme
I understand that the Runnymede Trust would welcome the suggestion.
1314 That is a positive and constructive proposal to try to get the information.
The Secretary of State referred to other sources where limited information on the ethnic question is available. I do not criticise that in any way, but I do not think that it is sufficient. A bigger effort should be made by the Government and Government support and finance should be given, with the co-operation of the immigrant community and ethnic minorities, to try to find that type of information. On that basis, I recommend to my right hon. and hon. Friends that we do not press the ethnic question for this census, but that we press for the information in a different context. I therefore ask my right hon. and hon. Friends not to oppose this order.
§ Mr. Marlow
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The right hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) impugned my attitudes without knowing my attitudes. Would it be proper through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his imputations?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
I did not hear the right hon. Gentleman ascribe any dishonour to the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow). If the hon. Gentleman is patient, he may have an opportunity to put his point during the debate, if he catches my eye.
§ 11.6 pm
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
I shall be brief. We have heard two useful speeches on the census order, and I shall not detain the House very long. I seek to obtain information from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State at the request of the Cheshire county council and the Macclesfield borough council. Both these bodies have written to me about the census, expressing concern about the Government's attitude to the census, and about the questions which will be posed in it.
I am pleased that in his opening remarks my right hon. Friend clearly indicated that the Government have taken on board the request from many bodies—not least local authorities—to provide a question on the number of cars and vans in a particular household. That is vital to local authorities in undertaking the 1315 planning for the services which they provide for the community. The Cheshire county council indicated in respect of transport changes that in 1971 41 per cent. of Cheshire's households had no car. It was estimated that it had reduced to 36 per cent. in 1977. At that time it was estimated that 14 per cent. of journeys to work were made mainly by bus. The figures for 1981 will show whether past forecasts of changes in car availability and journeys to work were sound, and provide an accurate base for future forecasts. I am sure that many hon. Members, both Labour and Conservative, welcome the Government's decision to include a question on cars and vans.
I turn to the question which we have been discussing at some length already, and which was posed by the Macclesfield borough council. The council is concerned by the Government's proposal to ask only one question on migration. To an extent, I am in some sympathy with the views expressed by the right hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme). No doubt, although almost uniquely, I am anticipating remarks that may well be made by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) in a moment or two. I believe that the people of this country would find it helpful to have a little more information than that which is proposed by the Government. If I had had time to do more research, I might have gone to the Library to ascertain exactly what information was asked in the 1971 census and the precise wording that was used.
If people are asked their country of origin, it is basically as relevant today for the next 10 years as it was in 1971. It is likely that people coming to this country from Malta, the Indian Subcontinent or the West Indies will settle in areas where there is already a concentration of people from those parts of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, it is relevant for local authorities to know how many new residents have come to their area from various parts of the British Commonwealth. In my view, rather more pertinent questions on this subject should feature in the census.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
I am very interested to hear my hon. Friend's comments. I presume his intention is to discover how many non-indigenous Britons are living in this country. With 1316 second generation immigrants now living here in such numbers, any question that is posed will be largely irrelevant unless it asks whether they are black.
§ Mr. Winterton
I am not seeking to deal with second generation immigrants. I am merely trying to ascertain how many new people have come to this country since the last census. I believe that that is very relevant information which would be helpful to local authorities, the people of this country and the Government. I am not trying to classify areas as predominantly black, brown, yellow or white. It will be fairly easy to assess the composition of an area because of the numbers of people from, for example, the Indian subcontinent.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
There is a question in the census asking people for their country of origin. That will give information about immigrants. The intention of the question that was canvassed in the Haringey survey was to discover ethnic origin. That is not the same thing at all. From the point of view of the planning of services and so on, the numbers and the locations of the ethnic minority were sought, and it was shown quite conclusively that that was not the way to get them.
§ Mr. Winterton
It is not often that I have the opportunity to give way to a Front Bencher, and a distinguished Minister at that. I believe that my right hon. Friend's intervention has been helpful, and I am grateful for his comments.
My local authority considers that this census is extremely important. The chief executive of the Macclesfield borough council has told me that in the consultations that have taken place on this census he is concerned about the low priority which may well be afforded to processing the Cheshire results. I hope that the Minister will comment on that in his reply. [Interruption.] I know that my hon. Friends wish to speak, but the more they intervene from a sedentary position, the less likely they are to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
The census is the only national source of planning statistics available to any Government. Without it there would be very little planning in housing, education, 1317 roads and much else. The argument that was used by the Minister and to some extent by my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), that one could find a satisfactory alternative to this by partial surveys, is, of course, absolute nonsense. Partial surveys cannot do any more than take a general statistical sample and from that extrapolate rational projections. Therefore, one does not know the position in any given area, and if one's policy depends on distinguishing between one area and another, one cannot do that by sample surveys.
The only major work on racial disadvantage in this country was done by PEP on a sample survey of 317. From that it extracted a lot of useful information, but we cannot know whether that is typical of every area of ethnic minority groups in the country. In order to know where people are and to know how the statistics which are collected relate between one group and another, one must be able to count the group. Counting is the only way in which we can assess the degree of discrimination and disadvantage experienced by black people compared with white people. For example, one cannot know whether in a particular firm there is discrimination against blacks unless one counts how many blacks there are and what jobs they are in.
Counting, or monitoring, is a precondition of any serious attempt to deal with the problems for black people of discrimination and disadvantage. It is a scandal that when the problems faced by black people in Britain—or, as some hon. Members would say, the problems that black people cause—are being debated, there is no reliable information about what they are and where they are. I do not believe that it is right to take that decision simply on the basis of one totally inadequate survey, taken in one area of London at a time—and the worst time—when there was legitimate anxiety among black people about the possibility of a Conservative Government dedicated to discriminating against them taking office. That is what was thought, whether it was right or wrong. Because of that, anxiety was caused.
In the couple of months after the Prime Minister's speech about swamping, it was no surprise to me that many black 1318 people were anxious about the contents of the census. Any Government of any description should have countered that fear. Those of us who wanted to do something about black people's problems certainly should have countered it.
It is difficult to understand why members of the Labour Party argue against an ethnic question to allay that anxiety. We should be explaining to the minority groups why such a question is in their interests.
The crucial argument is that the information that would come from an ethnic question could not be used to the disadvantage of black people. It could not be the basis of a repatriation policy. It is not possible from the census to continue to collect information about individuals. Of course, individuals have to sign and give their names and addresses. That is taken from the general statistical information at the moment that is taken from the computer. After that, it is not available to the Government so that they can penalise individuals. We should explain that to the ethnic minority groups.
The only reason for an ethnic question is to help them. We of all people should be arguing in favour of helping black people. I was not thinking particularly of my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West. If he is sensitive about the question, I must say that it is absurd in the extreme to think that the information from a national census could in any way be made up by giving money to the Runnymede Trust. Miss Ushar Prashar might be a woman of great merit, but to think that she can take the national census is absurd. It is no answer to say, as the Minister said, that the information can be gained from household surveys. The household surveys are interesting in that the response is voluntary. But when asked the ethnic question, black people volunteered to answer in over 90 per cent. of the sample. That shows that when black people are assured that the question is not being asked against their interests—and they could not be assured of that in Haringey in the immediate run-up to the election—they are willing to respond, as they responded to the ethnic question in the 1971 census.
The Minister is wrong. Everybody knew that the question " Where was your 1319 parent born? " was an ethnic question. There was some anxiety about it But there was only a 3 per cent under-return in the 1971 census which did not invalidate it.
§ Mr. Lyon
I am sorry. Hon. Members who want to speak will not be able to do so if I give way.
The only purpose of the question was for the benefit of black people in this country. If that fact could have been got across to them, they would have answered the question readily. It is our fault in this House if we do not get that across to them before 1981.
My view is that we should put in this question. I agree that if there were a 54 per cent. return it would invalidate the whole census but I do not believe for one moment that there will be a 54 per cent. return. If we had a programme of educating people in the need for the question before 1981, there would be an overwhelming response.
I agree with my right hon. Friend for Salford, West that the kind of question we ask is a difficult issue. But I would have started where he never started and where the Government never started. He should have started by asking himself "Can we ask the question Are you black or white?" They did not ask that question.
That question was asked in the United States and Canada. They ask an ethnic question in all the countries of the West Indies and they get a good return. The fact is that, increasingly, black people are proud to acknowledge that they are black and they would not necessarily display the anxiety that liberals of the 1960s thought would be the case if we were to ask that question. Increasingly, if we are to monitor employment in this country and also monitor local authority services we must monitor colour. I should like to go further——
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)rose——
§ Mr. Lyon
I am bound to accept that I would like to go further in questioning an ethnic grouping because there are differences between groups in their response to local authority services. Such 1320 groups have particular needs. Only 4 per cent. of Asians live in council houses. How do I know that? I got it from the 1971 census. On the whole, Asians prefer to buy their own houses, whereas West Indians apply for council houses at roughly the same rate as whites. That kind of information, which is vital to our understanding of the problems of blacks, comes only out of the census.
We do not know enough about the problems of the Chinese in this country and we would know a good deal more if there was an ethnic question about Chinese origin. But that question will not be posed. That is why I would certainly have gone as far as asking the question which the previous Labour Government posed.
But if that is so difficult that it would cause embarrassment on the return, I would go back to the original question "Are you black or white?". We have to ask this question rather than the question about the birthplace of a parent because so many people have now been born here of people who were born here. That question would, therefore, have given an under-return, too.
But to ask the question is absolutely crucial if we are to have a proper programme to deal with ethnic disadvantage in the late 1980s. When this Government are overthrown and we get back a Labour Government and a new ethnic groups Bill, we shall find that the information is just coming in from the census and we will not know where black people are or what their particular problems are.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)
I wish to comment briefly on what has been said by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon). He argued at some length a case upon which we are all agreed. namely, the desirability, if possible, of obtaining information concerning the numbers of those who form part of the ethnic minorities and where they are situated.
I think that the arguments for that are overwhelming. But what the hon. Member has not dealt with are the practical difficulties facing anybody seeking to achieve, or obtain, that particular piece of information. I think that the hon. Member is perfectly right when he says 1321 that to ask the question "What is your place of birth?" or alternatively "What is the place of birth of your parents?" is not particularly helpful, for the reason that he gave. The point is that many of them are of parents who were born in this country of parents born abroad.
Therefore, the point is a good one That being so, we really do—and I agree with the hon. Member on this—have to pose the direct question "What colour are you?" whether the person be yellow, brown or pink. I think, however, that in the context of the 1980s that is rather a provocative question. I think that the question will be treated with great distrust by those required to answer it and I agree with the Secretary of State when he says that to pose a question of that kind—and which is likely to be received with distrust—is likely to invalidate the whole of the census return.
There is very limited experience in this regard, and that is Haringey. The explanation put forward by the hon. Member for York, namely, that the test was conducted just before the general election and that in some way that is relevant is simply malicious. If the hon. Gentleman really thought about that matter at all, which I do not think he did—I think that his comment was made off the cuff and was ill-considered—he would appreciate that that was a wholly mendacious and outrageous remark.
The truth is that in this world at this time people do not like being asked a question of that kind. That is the sole reason. They will not like it being asked whichever Government are in power. That being so, I hope that the hon. Gentleman's amendment will be rejected and that the House will support the recommendations of my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Reg Race (Wood Green)
I find myself in considerable agreement with the Secretary of State. That is rather surprising, because this is the only occasion on which I have been in that position since I was elected to this House. One of the other difficulties in which I find myself is that prior to the general election, in my previous incarnation as a trade union official, I was thoroughly in favour of monitoring ethnic origins. Indeed, I presented a paper to the executive council of my union on that subject. But 1322 the experience in Haringey is very important in this respect.
There, the question asked in the test census was opposed by every ethnic group in the borough. It was opposed by the local community relations council. It was opposed by the trades council and also by the local Labour Parties, for a number of different reasons. The first was that, quite properly, people wanted to be regarded as black British. The second was that, rightly or wrongly, they believed that this question was the precursor to vicious nationality legislation. The third was that they did not believe that the census information would be confidential. Whether or not that is right, that is what they believed.
They believed that this information could have been used—this is strengthened by the attitude of some Conservative Members this evening—by a future Government who wanted to repatriate sections of the black, Asian, Greek and Cypriot communities in this country. They opposed it for all those reasons.
Therefore, if the question—or anything like it—that was expounded in Haringey were generalised in the census throughout the country, we would be in a situation, as the Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sal-ford, West (Mr. Orme) clearly said, in which the whole of the census would be attacked and devalued by it, because it would not be supported or answered by substantial sections of the British people. For that reason, I find myself in substantial agreement with both Front Benches.
Another reason that was important in Haringey was the attitude of one of the local Conservative Parties. Its attitude was that it wanted to see some repatriation of black people. It blamed the problems of Haringey and, indeed, of the United Kingdom as a whole, on the presence of black people.
Mr. John Fatten (Oxford)
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
§ Mr. Race
I shall not, for the reason that my right hon. Friend and others have already given.
The combination of fear about the confidentiality of the census, fear about the attitude of one of the local Conservative Parties and fears in all the 1323 directions that I have mentioned, led people to reject the test question. [HON. MEMBERS: "You did not reassure them."] Indeed, we did not reassure them, because we in the local Labour Parties believed that the information that was being gleaned could have been used for a vicious nationality and repatriation policy. For all those reasons the people of Haringey rejected the question, and I am sure that the House would be right to reject any kind of question along the lines of that in the test census in Haringey.
§ Mr. Tony Durant (Reading, North)
I am pleased to enter into this debate. I wish to speak for only a few moments on the amendments in my name.
I am delighted that my right hon. Friend has agreed to accept these amendments. There is no doubt that in the debate in the other place there was strong feeling because this question had been dropped despite the fact that in the 1981 White Paper—the document that prepared the ground for this census—it was suggested that the question on transport should be included. It is good that the Government have accepted that this question should be included. This affects a tremendous amount of the planning of our towns and cities. It is essential to know where cars are and where they are widely used, and this is something that is to be welcomed.
I understand that it will cost £50,000 to put this question back into the census, but that is perhaps small money compared with what local authorities would have to pay when they were faced with the prospect of having to introduce a new major road scheme. They would have to do some form of census before undertaking such a scheme, and cumulatively over the country that would cost a lot more than £50,000. It seems sensible to ask this reasonable question, and that is why I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman has accepted it.
I propose now to say something about the ethnic minority question. I know something about this, in the sense that I have a large number of so-called immigrants in my constituency, and I agree with the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race). Most members of the ethnic 1324 minorities are suspicious of forms of any sort. Any form that looks official that comes through their door gives them the feeling that it is prying into their business and there is resistance to filling it in.
I believe that there are dangers in having the form on the lines originally suggested, and I support the Government's view on this, and that of the Opposition, too, because my experience in my constituency is that even the form that goes out to get members of ethnic minorities put on the electoral register is regarded with suspicion. They ask "Why am I being asked to list everybody who lives in my house merely to get a vote?"
That type of form causes them some anxiety, so a form as complex as this will, I am sure, cause great difficulty, and therefore I am delighted that the Government have accepted my amendments, subject to the will of the House. I am sure that this will help to make the census more valuable and more useful to the country, particularly perhaps to local government.
The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) has put down an amendment which I do not think would go far enough. It would not provide the information that we want, namely about the ownership of vehicles rather than the use of them. That is why it would be better to accept my amendments, and I hope that the House will do so.
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)
As the Secretary of State said, since the war this is the fourth census that we have had. It is interesting to note that this one, as were those of 1951 and 1971, was prepared by one Government and implemented by another, which perhaps is as good a way of getting broad agreement as one can get in this House. We are discussing a 10-yearly pry into our affairs, and I think that it is right that this pry should tread a delicate line between the concern for privacy and the need to know. Good government is based on accurate information, which is based on a true census.
There are three criteria that must be borne in mind. The questions asked must not cause grave concern, offence or embarrassment. They should not go into 1325 unnecessary details. Finally, they should not try to ascertain something which could reasonably easily be ascertained by other means, or evoke information which is available elsewhere.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) said that it would be helpful if a little more information were forthcoming. That sentiment was echoed in all parts of the Chamber. It is wrong to ask questions upon pain of fine or imprisonment if the fine is not paid. That is a most important criterion. As we have heard from the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon), there was a 97 per cent. take-up when questions were asked voluntarily. It may be worth while considering—not in this census but in future censuses—having one section of questions that is obligatory and enforced by law and having other questions that are voluntary. If what we have heard tonight is right, the take-up of the voluntary questions will not be offensive. I agree with the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race) that it is wrong to impose on people questions that upset them.
Following the census in 1971, for example, subsequent questions that were put to the Government were steadily met with the words " It has been too soon to process the answers to the 1971 census ". Such statements were made for two or three years after the date of the census. I am sure that with the help of more modern equipment and computers it will be possible for the Government to find the answers more quickly and to publish them with more expedition than has been done previously.
§ Mr. Gary Waller (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I had intended to speak quite strongly in favour of the inclusion of the question on the ownership of a vehicle. However, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has taken the wind out of my sails by announcing that he has capitulated to the clear arguments in favour of including such a question. I express my surprise that it was ever intended to exclude the question. I asked my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport why the question had been excluded. He replied that thequestion on car availabilitywas not necessary assimilar and adequate information is obtainable from other, voluntary surveys carried out 1326 on behalf of the Government."—[Official Report, 16 April 1980; Vol. 982, c. 667.]It now seems clear that such information is not available from other sources.
It has been suggested that information is available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea. The information from the DVLC is not adequate, as it cannot possibly be related to demographic considerations. Local authorities have made it clear—I refer especially to the West Yorkshire metropolitan county council—that they rely strongly on information that was made available in the previous census and that they are not prepared to base decisions in future on information from other sources.
I welcome the Government's acceptance of the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant). I do not want to delay hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber who wish to speak on the ethnic issue. However, there is great rejoicing in Heaven on the repentance of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I commend my hon. Friend's amendment.
§ Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea, South)
While I understand fully the fears of the black and Asian communities about the proposal to have an ethnic question in the census, I still regret that the Government decided to drop this question. I fear that we are missing a major opportunity to help to tackle the disadvantage suffered by the black and Asian communities in this country. Without the information that would have been revealed by the census we shall not be able to take the necessary action to tackle this disadvantage. To alleviate the lot of many black and Asian people we need two things: political will, and the facts. Political will without the facts will not be effective.
We are not as interested in the total numbers of black and Asian people in this country as we are in the relationship between them, the nature of the housing in which they find themselves and the nature of the jobs that they have. It is the relationship between being black and having a lousy job or being unemployed that is the key fact if we are to tackle that form of disadvantage which, as we know, affects many young blacks in our community.
§ Mr. John Sever (Birmingham, Ladywood)
Does my hon. Friend agree that much of the information to which he referred is already available to a considerable extent within the local authorities, which have not been referred to a great deal in this debate? Does he agree that a lot of what we are trying to find out can already be found out?
§ Mr. Dubs
I disagree with my hon. Friend. A lot of this information is not available within the local authorities. I speak as somebody who worked for a local authority until the election last year and who was involved in race relations in an inner London borough local authority.
The events in Bristol have highlighted the fact that we need purposeful strategies to tackle disadvantages. We need resource allocations to the areas where disadvantage manifests itself more particularly than in other areas. We must tackle the discrimination that is obvious in those areas. From what little information we have, we know that young blacks, for example, are three times more likely to be unemployed than their white contemporaries.
The information gleaned from the census could be used at local and national level, for example in the replacement of section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966, so that we could have purposeful measures from the Government. Local surveys will not do. They are costly, they provide less confidentiality than a census, and they prevent national comparisons from being made so that resources can be allocated.
I regret very much that the Government failed to give leadership when they saw that opposition was developing in Haringey to the idea of an ethnic question. Both Governments should have given assurances to the people who were particularly concerned. More should have been done to reassure people that the census would be treated as utterly confidential, possibly even by going so far as having an independent monitoring body which would include members of the black and Asian communities, so that there would be more safeguards.
Reference was made to the results that were obtained in other surveys in which ethnic questions were included. Perhaps I might refer to the national dwelling and 1328 housing survey, which covered 17,000 interviews, which contained an ethnic question and which achieved a response rate of 99.2 per cent. If there had been widespread fear throughout the country about answering an ethnic question, there would not have been such a high response rate as 99.2 per cent. It was a voluntary question. Nevertheless, it was answered. The confidential safeguards were fewer than those in a census.
The question in the survey was:To which of the groups listed on this card do you consider the person belongs?It listed a number of groups: White, West Indian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Turkish, Other Asian, African, Arab, Others, Mixed Origin and Refused. The response rate was 99.2 per cent.
There are lessons to be learnt from the experience of North America, where the black population is much more aware of the need to have this kind of information. At the time of the 1970 census, 85 black organisations developed the following theme:On census day say it loud and clear: I'm black, I'm proud and I'm here. Be counted, baby.That was the theme of many of the black groups in the United States, in contrast to the attitude of many of the people in this country, and the census information in the United States has been used for positive action and pressure by many United States civil rights organisations.
I urge the Government to think again. If we do not have an ethnic question in this census we shall lose valuable information, not just in the lifetime of this Government, but in the lifetime of several Governments to come.
§ Mr. John Patten (Oxford)
I have two points that I want to make in the very short time available to me.
I very much regret that in his remarks the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race) did not decry the efforts by organisations in Haringey to undermine the whole Haringey trial. It is shameful that Labour Members criticised my hon. Friends and others and yet did not criticise those who did their best to undermine the whole basis of the Haringey trial. I think that those people have blood on their hands—speaking figuratively, 1329 of course, not in the way that others would speak—through torpedoing what would have been a valuable exercise which right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have agreed is desirable, and which my hon. Friends, of all shades of opinion, have agreed would be desirable.
My right hon. Friend said that in looking at ethnic questions there is no need to fear lack of confidentiality. I believe that he quoted only one case in the last 10 years of confidentiality being broken. That having been said, it would have been extremely desirable, if it had been possible to frame the question in the right way—and it was almost framed in the right way—to ask the ethnic question, for two reasons.
First, we have become used over the last 10 or 15 years to associating particular levels of deprivation with black people. I think that this Government, committed as they are to doing what they can for people of all classes and all races, want to be as well informed as possible to enable them in providing for such people, to strike a happy medium between doing nothing at all, which I would decry, and being positively discriminatory, which I would equally decry and consider to be wrong. I therefore think that it is a great shame that we shall be unable to get from the census the sort of information that we need, and I am sorry that a question could not be framed. I doubt very much whether other organisations can provide us with that information.
Secondly, I feel that it is a great shame that we do not have the straightforward ethnic information. We have had too many people, whom I would describe as wet Liberals, saying that it is wrong to ask questions about race. I respect the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) for this if for nothing else, that he is prepared to ask this question. I am surprised, indeed, that in some of the fuss that has been made about this census we have not had people coming forward and suggesting that it is totally wrong to ask whether a person is male or female because that is sexist.
I should like to know whether, when certain hon. Gentlemen make predictions about the future of race relations in this country, those predictions are soundly based. I want to know whether, when 1330 the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) makes his predictions they are soundly based in fact.
For these two reasons, I think that it is greatly to be regretted that it has been impossible for these important questions to be included in the census, and I hope that the alternatives that my right hon. Friend has suggested will prove feasible.
§ Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)
I am sorry that this debate has been such a short one, in view of the many hon. Members who have wanted to speak.
I give a general welcome to the census order and hope that the Government will make a point of explaining to the public the important practical uses to which the answers will be put, as well as the confidentiality of their replies. I hope also that the information will be processed as speedily as possible so that it will not be out of date before it is even available, as happened in a previous census, I believe.
The debate has been dominated by the issue of a census question on ethnic origin. All my hon. Friends who have spoken on the subject have considerable knowledge and experience of race relations. Yet there is no general agreement about this matter, either inside or outside the House. Among the ethnic minorities and race relations bodies it has been found that there is a wide spectrum of opinion on the whole question.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) pointed out, we appreciate the need for authoritative and reliable information about main ethnic minorities, their size, location and any other factors that can be listed. We could then provide help in language, housing, education, employment and many other areas. That can be done only as the result of a suitable and acceptable census question. Regrettably, no such suitable and acceptable question has yet been devised.
The Minister of State, Home Office, on 21 March in Newcastle upon Tyne proposed sample surveys to find out about ethnic minorities as an alternative to the census question. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) that surveys would not produce such comprehensive and reliable information as 1331 a census because they would be voluntary and cover much smaller and more selected areas. Nevertheless, although they would be a poor substitute for a census, and at best an estimate, perhaps the Minister will say what sort of surveys it is intended the Government should carry out. Will they be in addition to those already in existence, such as the family expenditure survey and the national dwelling and housing survey? When will they start? How extensive will they be? What expenditure will the Government be prepared to incur on them? Is it intended that money saved by the withdrawal of several questions in the census will be spent on the surveys—preferably with additional money?
The surveys should be carried out as speedily as possible. We ask the Government to bear in mind that they are not an end in themselves. They are a means to an end; that end being to carry out a comprehensive attack on racial disadvantage. The existence of racial disadvantage is generally accepted, and the previous Labour Government introduced the Local Government Grants (Ethnic Groups) Bill with the specific aim of directly attacking racial disadvantage, but unfortunately the general election was held soon after it received its Second Reading.
I hope that the Home Secretary and Ministers will read the editorial in today's The Guardian entitled " Much diagnosis, no prescription " concerning racial disadvantage. I hope also that the Government will not just carry out surveys to identify areas of racial disadvantage, but will take urgent action to deal with this problem in areas where it has already been identified as well as in areas that will be revealed by the surveys.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Sir George Young)
This has been a frustrating debate, in that information which several hon. Members would have liked for varying reasons cannot be provided. I shall try to deal with as many of the points as I can now, and I shall deal with those that remain unanswered tonight by writing to the hon. Members concerned.
The right hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) endorsed the Govern- 1332 ment's position and made it quite clear that they were right not to include an ethnic question. He also said that there was no difference between the two Front Benches on the need to have this information.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would dearly have liked to have the information. It became clear from Haringey that the information which both Front Benches would have liked could not be obtained through the census without prejudicing the results of the census as a whole.
In an intervention, the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) said that an 85 per cent. response had been secured to a question on ethnic origin in the general household survey. I think that it should be made clear that in that survey the question was filled in by the interviewer, whereas here we are dealing with a census by self-enumeration, so that is not really a direct parallel.
My hon. Friend the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) asked about immigration. Of course figures on immigrants, strictly defined, will be available from the census, because question No. 9 includes a question on the country of birth, so we shall be able to monitor immigration. He also asked about the timetable for producing the results, as did the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill). This time the census results will be produced more quickly than in 1971. A preliminary report, giving the total population in each district, will be published within a few weeks of census day, and tables for particular districts should start appearing early in 1982, with national tables appearing from mid-1982. All the main results will be available by the summer of 1984. Tables will be available for some counties early in 1982, and for all counties by May of that year.
The hon. Member for York said that it would be absurd to debate matters without having the basic facts, but, unfortunately, absurdity does not produce the information. If we look at the census information in the OPCS Monitor issued in March, it becomes clear why the ethnic minorities are reluctant to make the information available. Perhaps I might quote briefly from page 6:in Haringey 32 per cent. of both West Indian and Asian householders who completed 1333 the form said they objected in principle to the direct ethnic question.Later on it says:The parents' countries of birth question was answered somewhat better but gave rise to even more objections in principle than did the direct ethnic question.So one is in the somewhat paradoxical position that those whom one is trying to help are unwilling to provide the information on which that help might be based. I think that it would be wrong, however, having got the information from Haringey, to put at risk the whole results of the survey.
The last paragraph of the OPCS Monitor says:In the light not only of the results of the Haringey Test, but also of extensive consultations with minority groups, the Government has announced that it does not now propose to include in the 1981 Census questions on ethnic origin, parents countries of birth, nationality or year of entry.
§ Sir G. Young
No, I am sorry, but I have only one minute left and, in fairness, I must try to respond to the questions that I have been asked.
§ Sir G. Young
I come now to the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) who suggested that one might have a census, part of which should be
§ completed voluntarily, and part of which should be completed compulsorily. This is not possible under the Census Act, but even if it were I think that there would be some confusion in the minds of those who filled it in about which part of the census was voluntary and which was compulsory. As my right hon. Friend made clear, the Government are happy to accept the amendments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. Durant).
§ Finally, I was asked about extra surveys. My right hon. Friend mentioned three surveys that were relevant. In addition, there are the ethnic origin statistics from the voluntarly national housing and dwelling survey and from the voluntary labour force survey. There is a range of other sources, including the inter national——
It being one and a half hours after commencement of proceedings on the motion, an amendment was proposed to the Question, at the end, to add:
subject to the following modification in Schedule 2, item 5, line 6, by inserting at the end ' and in order to obtain statistical information with a view to ascertaining the degree of disadvantage in the social condition of ethnic minority groups of the population, the ethnic origin of such a person '."—[Mr. Alexander W. Lyon.]
§ Question, That the amendment be made, put forthwith, pursuant to Order this day:
§ The House divided: Ayes 14, Noes 116.1335
|Division No. 271]||AYES||11.58 pm|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Lewis, Arthur (Newham North West)||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)|
|Budgen, Nick||Lyon, Alexander (York)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||McWilliam, John|
|Cohen, Stanley||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Cook, Robin F.||Parry, Robert||Mr. Clive Soley and Mr. Alfred Dubs|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)|
|Alexander, Richard||Buck, Antony||Faith, Mrs Sheila|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Cadbury, Jocelyn||Fenner, Mr. Peggy|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Canavan, Dennis||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Beith, A. J.||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Freud, Clement|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn)||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Best, Keith||Chapman, Sydney||Gorst, John|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Gow, Ian|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Colvin, Michael||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Cope, John||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Dorrell, Stephen||Hannam, John|
|Bowden, Andrew||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Hawksley, Warren|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Dover, Denshore||Henderson, Barry|
|Brinton, Tim||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Durant, Tony||Hooson Tom|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Eyre, Reginald||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick||Fairgrieve, Russell||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Hurd, Hon Douglas||Neubert, Michael||Tebbit, Norman|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Newton, Tony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)||Thompson, Donald|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Parris, Matthew||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Patten, John (Oxford)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Penhaligon, David||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Raison, Timothy||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Rathbone, Tim||Viggers, Peter|
|MacKay, John (Argyll)||Rhodes James, Robert||Waddington, David|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)||Ridsdale, Julian||Wakeham, John|
|Major, John||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)|
|Marland, Paul||Rossi, Hugh||Waller, Gary|
|Marlow, Tony||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Watson, John|
|Mather, Carol||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman||Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Wheeler, John|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Shersby, Michael||Wickenden, Keith|
|Mills, lain (Meriden)||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Moate, Roger||Speed, Keith||Wolfson, Mark|
|Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)||Squire, Robin||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Murphy, Christopher||Stevens, Martin||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Needham, Richard||Stradling Thomas, J.||Mr. John MacGregor and|
|Nelson, Anthony||Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)||Mr. Peter Brooke|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
Amendment proposed, at the end, to add:
subject to the following modification:—
The substitution for item 16 of Schedule 2 of the following item:
' 16. Whether the private household to the return relates—
§ Question, That the amendment be made, put forthwith, pursuant to Order this day, and agreed to.
Amendment proposed, after the words last added, to add:
and the substitution for item 19 of Schedule 3 of the following item:
' 19. Whether the private household to which the return relates—
§ Question, That the amendment be made, put forthwith, pursuant to Order this day, and agreed to.
§ Main Question, as amended, put forthwith, pursuant to Order this day, and agreed to.
That items 5, 6, 8, 10, 11(1 )(d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j), 11(2), 12(a)(vii), 15 and 16 of Schedule 2, items 5, 6, 8, 10, 11(d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (e), 11(2), 12(a)vii), 15, 17, 18 and 19 of Schedule 3, and items 2 and 3 of Schedule 4 to the Order in Council, entitled the Census Order 1980, a draft of which was laid before this House on 20th March, be approved, subject to the following modification:
The substitution for item 16 of Schedule 2 of the following item:
16. Whether the private household to which the return relates—
The substitution for item 19 of Schedule 3 of the following item:
19. whether the private household to which the return relates—