Government inspectors are to ask us intimate questions about our sex lives, it was revealed.
More than half a million people every year will be asked about their past and present sexual partners, contraception and how long couples have lived together before marriage.
The 2,000 questions are part of the Integrated Household Survey, and the responses will be logged with respondents’ names and addresses.
Civil servants insist that the sensitive personal information will be made anonymous once the files arrive at the Office of National Statistics, where they will then be held on a secure server.
But campaigners last night branded the survey “intrusive” and another example of Labour’s “surveillance state”.
The survey will cost £3.5 million to carry out each year and will see inspectors randomly visit up to 200,000 homes to question each occupant.
They will ask 35 questions on contraception alone, covering vasectomies, the pill and if respondents have ever used the “morning after” pill.
Other intimate questions include the exact dates when previous relationships ended, precise monthly earnings and details of any second jobs or bonuses.
Investigators will also ask about the health of any children in the household.
One insensitive question asks: “Have you ever had a baby – even one who lived for a short time?”
Interviewers are then told: “Exclude: Any stillborn; include: Any who lived for a short time.”
Even though the survey is voluntary it has been claimed that inspectors will press respondents into revealing personal details with follow-up questions designed to draw out more information.
The ONS said it needed to carry out the annual poll to keep abreast of constantly changing social trends and so help Whitehall formulate policy.
But some experts cast doubt on the survey’s accuracy, suggesting that some respondents may hold back information, especially of a sexual nature, or say what they think the interviewer wants to hear.
Frank Ferudi, professor of sociology at Kent University, said: “If they want to find out about intimate details they should do it in a much more sensitive way.”
Tory Communities spokesman Eric Pickles said: “Day by day, the liberty and privacy of the British public is being undermined by Labour’s surveillance state. People will be shocked that taxpayers’ money is being spent on intrusive surveys.
“Now state spies want to log and record who sleeps with whom and how often. Not even the Stasi went this far.”
Last night, a spokesman for the ONS defended the survey and said it was “a high quality, adaptable and efficient” way of “meeting the Government’s future information needs”.
By PAUL SIMS
Last updated at 02:33am on 21st April 2008
Source: Daily Mail