Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Demise of the Census

Francis Maude (pictured), the Cabinet Office minister, is in the limelight for the second time this week. He's now proposing to get rid of the Census, which takes place every 10 years and replace it with a different and cheaper way of measuring the number of people in Britain. The suggestion is likely to be approved by Cabinet next week.

It will be too late to prevent the next Census on 27 March, 2011 from going ahead, although Mr Maude is looking at ways of reducing the £482 million cost. Labour had already spent £300 million on the project which will be organised by the Office for National Statistics.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, a constitutional barrister, said the news was 'regrettable' since some sort of count had been carried out by the monarch or government for almost 1,000 years.

"Future historians will be less able to interpret Britain in the Cameron/Clegg era as a result of this decision- maybe that is the reason for it," he said.

It's interesting to note that Mr Maude intends to count the population more frequently - perhaps every 5 years - using databases held by credit checking firms, Royal Mail, councils and government.

"This would give you more accurate, much more timely data in real time. There is a load of data out there in loads of different places," he said.

Don't we know it. If they don't have enough information about you then it can be easily acquired.


Joe Public said...

All Mr Maude needs do is buy one of those Junk Mail databases. They seem to know every household in the country.

Apogee said...

Hi SR.
As all the mentioned suppliers are commercial to some degree and therefore subject to data protection act laws ,how do they plan to get around that obstacle. And how much will they be charged. It will also introduce "errors" which will be uncheckable as the raw data will never be available (to us!).It can never be tracked back to an individual and will rely
on the accuracy of commercial concerns and government departments not well known for accuracy, the tax credit system for one.

subrosa said...

Now there's an idea for him Joe and I note Apogee has a good point too.

subrosa said...

The Royal Mail sell their databases Apogee. A friend of mine gets mail for one of her children sent to her home, owing to the adult child's job it's the most convenient way for some of their mail.

The council sent her a letter saying she was claiming single person allowance and told her they knew mail was being delivered to more than one name.

She sorted the lot out quickly but she was furious that the council had been able to buy such data.

Apogee said...

Aint it funny how government and its agents ,Dvla, councils etc can all sell information relating to you that you may consider private, but the same governments consider it as spying if you do the same with information they consider private !
Funny that. Could it be double standards?

Sheila said...

The census is completely redundant.

We are well on the way to the State (Scotland,UK,Europe or whatever) having a detailed:

single view of every citizen:

and property:

Observer said...

The data protection act prevents public sector agencies from selling lists to commercial companies, but ensures that there are no walls between different agencies in the public sector.

The govt know exactly who is in the country unless you are an illegal.

There is no need for the census, I could find out personal details about each and every one of you if you gave me some key information. I respect people's privacy and don't misuse my access rights. But I bet a lot of people don't.

Observer said...

Mind you, we are complete amateurs compared to the credit rating agencies. They can probably report when you go to the toilet, such is the intrusivness of some of their monitoring. We use them sometimes for identifying former client debt, they are scary.

I genuinely try and avoid leaving a footprint where I can, no store cards, no loyalty cards, stuff like that I do not do.

If you knew how much data was collected on you, you would be (rightly) afraid.

Sheila said...

Observer - "... but ensures that there are no walls between different agencies in the public sector."

Would really appreciate if you could point me to the relevant bit(s) of the Act :)

subrosa said...

Of course it's double standards Apogee. That's how they control us don't you think?

Anonymous said...

It's rather frightening that the government will be able to get information about you from these sourses.

On the other hand the census itself is an irritant, and one which I loathe filling in so much so that my handwriting becomes illegible and I often make errors.

I heard on the Beeb this morning that it was only for England and Wales. I don't know what that was about as it seems it is a supranational thing.

Well well, Old Maudie. I thought he was dead and then he pops up twice in a week. Good for him.

Anonymous said...

BTW... I saw demise and Maude in your heading there on the sidebar and I though.... Lordy, he's kicked the bucket...

subrosa said...

Sheila, thanks so much for the links. Some of them I hadn't seen before.

subrosa said...

You're not the first person to mention avoiding leaving footprints Observer and I've taken note of what you say.

I can imagine we should be afraid. As someone mentioned earlier we get little or no chance to amend any wrong statements. That's where all this is too intrusive.

subrosa said...

Like you Tris, I thought the Census was UK wide. Didn't realise Scotland had total control over ours.

I wrote that post thinking of you and knowing how delighted you'd be to see another photo of Mr Maude. :)

subrosa said...

You're determined he should be dead aren't you Tris? ;)

Dark Lochnagar said...

I can't see why we need a census in this day and age with all the data there is floating around about us. Let's just all get chipped like the Bankers and in particular the Rothschilds want, then the state can have total control. We'll soon be the United States of Europe anyway.

subrosa said...

Haven't they got near total control already DL?

Anonymous said...

LOL... Thanks for thinking of me SR. I'd kinda prefer a pic of someone a little more beautiful though (ya know Petula takes a really good photo).

Goodness me no, I don't want the old sausage dead. I'm sure he's a lovely chap. It's just I had him in the same generation as Thatcher and Heath and Harold Wilson and it was a surprise to see him till in active politics.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Ah! dear friends, you're all crying from the standpoint of the democratic boot.

Allow me a small analogy - when you go in a lift there's a button marked 'OPEN DOOR'

Generally this button is completely false. Press it and the doors will still close in relation to the lifts pre-set sequence. The button only function is the give people the feeling they are in control.

The word democracy serves the same dysfunction in our society.

subrosa said...

What a super analogy RA and very accurate.

subrosa said...

Ah Petula Tris. I believe she uses the same moisturiser as me. ;)

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