§ Mr. Boswell
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about access to the census by disabled people; and what action he is taking in conjunction with ministerial colleagues to improve access. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Tim Boswell, dated 30 April 2001:As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what representations have been received about access to the Census by disabled people; and what action is being taken in conjunction with ministerial colleagues to improve access (159409).An important new initiative for the 2001 Census is the Community Liaison Programme, through which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Census staff have consulted, and worked with community groups and national organisations specifically to assist those who would find the completion of the Census questionnaire difficult.For example, the Census Office has worked with the RNIB over the past two years to produce a set of support materials for the visually impaired. These include Large Print, Braille and audiotape 512W formats of the census questions and information. This support material is aimed at providing details about the questions on the Census form to help a visually impaired person to understand what is being requested and to facilitate supplying the information.In addition text phone Helpline for the deaf has been operating since 1 April 2001.Specialist training presented by an external expert in disability awareness has been given to Census Area Managers and this training has been cascaded down to all members of the field force. An effective communication guide for all field staff which includes disability awareness has also been produced. Help in completing the form will be provided by Census-takers, on a one-to-one basis if necessary.Assistance with the completion of the form for anyone who has difficulty, for whatever reason, can be arranged by field staff, either when the Census-taker calls with the form, or via the Census Helpline (0845 301 2001).I have made alternative arrangements under the Census Regulations to cover cases where, in exceptional circumstances, it would be impossible or unreasonably difficult for the information to be collected by conventional means. This facility is not intended to be used generally, but where it is not possible to provide the necessary assistance locally, information can be provided over the telephone.
§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what precautions have been taken to ensure that the delivery of census forms does not contribute to the spread of foot and mouth disease from farm to farm; 
(2) what provision has been made for those who have not yet received a census form that they can be collected so deliveries on farms are avoided. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
[holding answer 26 April 2001]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Miss Anne McIntosh, dated 30 April 2001:As Registrar General for England and Wales I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking (1) what precautions have been taken to ensure that the delivery of census forms does not contribute to the spread of food and mouth disease and (2) what provision has been made for those who have not yet received a census form that they can be collected so that deliveries on farms are avoided. (158955, 158956)On 2 April I released a statement announcing plans for conducting the Census in areas affected by foot and mouth disease. I attach a copy of this for your information.This explains that census-takers working in the countryside have been instructed to respect all foot and mouth restrictions, and the wishes of the farming community. Specific guidance for census-takers has been drafted in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and has been endorsed by the National Assembly for Wales, as well as by the National Farmer's Union.Specifically, in infected areas and premises within exclusion zones, census-takers have been instructed:not to attempt to gain access to any premises under MAFF restrictions;not to visit any premises with susceptible livestock;to obey any signs forbidding or restricting access to premises;to stay on metalled/public roads; andto try to make contact by telephone to find out how best to deliver the Census form.Details of these procedures have been provided to all Census area managers, and have been incorporated into the training of enumerators.513WNew arrangements are in place so that Census forms can be delivered to farms and households by mail if necessary, or, where practical, collected from an agreed point such as a farm boundary. Completed forms will be returned by mail.The 2001 Census and Foot and MouthNational Statistician Len Cook today expressed confidence that the Census in England and Wales scheduled for 29 April can be conducted safely and efficiently despite the restrictions imposed to combat foot and mouth disease.Census-takers working in the countryside have been instructed to respect all foot and mouth restrictions, and the wishes of the farming community. New arrangements are being put in place so that Census forms can be delivered to farms and households by mail, or, where practical, to an agreed point such as a farm boundary. Completed forms will be returned by mail.The special instructions, drafted in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, have been endorsed by the National Assembly for Wales, as well as by the National Farmers Union. Details of the procedures have been delivered to area and district managers, and are incorporated in the training of census-takers.Mr. Cook said today "Senior Census officials last week visited teams in the regions worst affected by foot and mouth. They confirmed the practicality of the special arrangements for delivering Census forms in rural areas where there are restrictions.I am certain that, with these arrangements in place, the Census can be carried through without danger of contributing to the spread of the disease.I am very conscious of the distress and difficulty foot and mouth disease is causing, and we shall do nothing that might contribute to its spread.Census Director Graham Jones, who on Tuesday visited the North of England and met field staff from Cumbria, Northumberland and Yorkshire, today said: "The people at the sharp end say the revised procedures are entirely practical, and can be applied sensibility and flexibly by census-takers in the countryside.Alex Clark, Deputy Census Director, had meetings with field staff in Wales and Devon, and reported a similar positive reaction. In many places, area managers are liaising with local authorities to ensure compliance with local restrictions.Forms are scheduled for delivery to households between 9 and 20 April. Delivery in areas where there are restrictions may be delayed by a few days, but forms will reach households in time for the Census on 29 April.If necessary the deadline for returning forms will be extended.The information made available by the Census is essential to the planning activities of a whole range of private and public sector bodies," Mr. Cook said. "It will help determine resource allocation decisions on billions of pounds of public expenditure, which will be vitally important for the rural community and the rural economy. In these extremely difficult circumstances we are delighted by the co-operation we are receiving".