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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 17:46 GMT
UKIP claims 'sex census' victory
Filling in census form
The EU wants to find out more information from national censuses
The UK Independence Party is claiming victory in its battle to stop the EU asking personal questions in censuses.

The European Parliament employment and social affairs committee voted not to tell member states to ask a question on "consensual union" in their censuses.

UKIP MEP Derek Clark said he was "delighted" with the judgement, adding that the question "should never have been there in the first place."

The European Commission said the phrase "consensual union" did not mean sex.

'Intimate'

Mr Clark said: "I am delighted that the section calling for intimate personal details to be revealed to government statisticians has been removed.

"After I demanded an explanation for its initial inclusion from the Commission official he accepted that the question should never have been there in the first place, and if removed, then the Commission would not seek to reintroduce it."

Consensual union, as well as information on dates/duration of marriage, is valuable for fertility statistics
Eurostat

The Commission says it needs better quality data on how people live to formulate policies.

It has created a list of questions it wants all member states to ask in their next census to improve data on housing and population.

In addition to data on nationality, size of family, ethnicity, it wants to find out about such matters as computer literacy, number of cars owned, cooking facilities and "durable consumer goods possessed by the household".

The dropped question would have asked the "date(s) of the beginning of consensual union(s) of women having ever been in a consensual union: (ii) first consensual union and (ii) current consensual union".

'Devil in detail'

Mr Clark said: "Whilst they now claim that this has nothing to do with sexual partners, the clear inference in normally understood language is precisely that.

"Though this has now been struck down the devil is, as ever, in the details.

"The new version of the regulation allows questions to be inserted at a later date, and I will be keeping a close eye on it in order to protect our privacy."

A spokesman for Eurostat, which provides the EU with statistics at European level, said: "This definition has absolutely nothing to do with asking women about their sexual behaviour.

"Consensual union is in fact another term for unmarried partnership.

"Information on consensual unions may be needed in countries where statistics on marriages and on legal marital status do not provide sufficient information on the formation of partnerships.

"Consensual union, as well as information on dates/duration of marriage, is valuable for fertility statistics and extends the knowledge that can be derived from data on number of live-born children."

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