Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Census

Quite a number of blogs have commented on the pointlessness of the forthcoming census and the huge waste of money involved. The 2001 census was a abject failure, with an estimated million people having been omitted, and, in spite of the threats being issued by the authorities, there is good reason to believe that next month's will be even worse.
What I object to is the so-called reasons for holding the census.
Back in 1811 when the first census was held (yes, 1811, not 1841 as many people believe), it was a mere count of males, females and children, usually carried out by the local vicar, and there was probably very good reasons for the government wanting to have some idea as to the country's population bearing in mind that there was no birth or death registration and no centralised information on even relatively basic facts. By 1851, it had become more formal and included names, ages, sex, marital status, occupation and place of birth.
But in this day and age, the government already has all this information, and much more; We have to register births and deaths, get NHS and National Insurance numbers, fill in the electoral register, fill in tax forms, pay council tax, get passports and driving licences. Our children in the main attend state schools where more questions are asked and their finger prints taken. When we want any government service, the first question asked usually concerns one's ethnicity, often followed by one's sexual orientation and whether one has any disability. The councils have full details of most properties by virtue of the planning process, so it is hard to think of anything that officialdom does not already know about us.
The French have shown more sense; they have accepted that the information that they were going to demand in their next census is already in the possession of the various government departments where it is actually needed. Add to this the extreme reluctance of the French to tell the truth to any government official, they decided that the whole thing was a waste of money.
The reasons given for continuing with the census here don't bear logical examination and I will comment on just a couple
"It allows us to plan for the future, such as the need for schools and hospitals"
But they have almost five years from the time a child is born to when it goes to school, and if the immigration staff did their job properly we would know exactly how many school places will be needed.
"It will be useful in 100 years for genealogists"
Well our hobby is genealogy, and I certainly wouldn't advocate the government spending this amount of money to help future genealogists, particularly as I suspect most of the above records will become available on-line for research by then.
We are cutting the country's defence because it costs too much and wasting an estimated £500 million on this stupid exercise. The only thing that becomes apparent is the seeming incompetence of Big Brother to draw together information from the various sources that I listed into a single data base, for which I suppose we should all give heartfelt thanks.

Tomorrow (hopefully) "How should we complete our census form?"

No comments:

Post a Comment