For those who have contacted me about the 2021 Census, I appreciate concerns raised regarding the information available about those who have served in the Armed Forces.
Members of the Government do not, by convention, sign any Early Day Motions as doing so is likely to breach the Ministerial Code's rules on collective responsibility. However I know that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is already planning the 2021 Census in England and Wales. It launched a public consultation, seeking views on which topics the census should cover, and I am pleased to hear that there was a joint response from members of the Armed Forces charity sector, including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.
This consultation has now closed, and the ONS published an overview of the responses received in November last year. 'Military veterans' was listed as a proposed new topic in this overview, alongside gender identity, pet ownership and technology.
The ONS has said that it is working through a full evaluation of all the consultation responses, and will publish a full response to the consultation this year. Further work will inform the questionnaire design for a large scale test in 2017, and outcomes from this and other testing will contribute to decisions on the proposed topics to be included in the 2021 Census White Paper.
Finally, you may be interested to know that Parliament will eventually agree the final questionnaire content through the Census Order and Regulations in 2019.