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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Census 'errors' could cost city 18m
Volunteers display the UK's population figure
Figure errors would distort the UK's population total
Prime Minister Tony Blair has been asked to step in to a dispute over claims that census errors could cost Manchester up to 18m.

MP Graham Stringer said the mistakes in calculations of the number of people living in the city might effect the amount of government cash earmarked for public services.

Mr Stringer, MP for Blackley, told the House of Commons the chief executive of the Office of National Statistics "couldn't count".

However, Mr Blair said he was satisfied the 2001 census was the "most accurate" assessment of the UK population.

'Massively underestimated'

Mr Stringer said the problem was that census form volunteers in Manchester had not been persistent enough in contacting all city residents.

He claimed people like students and council-tax dodgers were not asked to fill in forms.

Mr Stringer said: "[This means the census] massively underestimates the population of cities like Manchester with large ethnic minority and student populations.

"To that end will he (Tony Blair) use his good office to make sure these figures don't get used in the planning of vital public services."

Mr Blair said he acknowledged local feelings on the issue.


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28 May 02 | Politics
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