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The Census (Amendment) Act 2000 made the modest though significant change of including the question of religious affiliation in the census of the population held in April 2001. The Act was originally drafted as a Private Members Bill by Lord Weatherill and Mr Jonathan Sayeed MP. It was seen as a key component of bringing the subject of ethnicity into the census spectrum. Parliament recognised that in the society of the new millennium many citizens chose to identify themselves in terms of their religion and cultural background. They argued that this religious question would allow more precise information to be collected on minority groups and be beneficial in six key areas; discrimination and racial disadvantage, social exclusion, health and community care planning, religious education in schools, regeneration of the inner cities, and helping voluntary sector religious groups.
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