The Government White Paper (The 2001 Census of Population, Cm 4253), announcing the proposed date of the 2001 Census throughout the United Kingdom and setting out the plans for the Census, was presented to Parliament jointly by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland in March 1999. It was published two years before the Census to allow time for public discussion of proposals that would affect every person in the country.

The White Paper drew on the extensive consultation process for data needs and set out the Government's proposals for the questions to be covered, together with background on the need for information. New questions on religion, general health, and carers, and a revised question on ethnic group, were included in the proposals. The inclusion of the question on religion was subject to an amendment to the Census Act 1920.

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