HC Deb 14 March 1851 vol 114 cc1316-7

wished to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department respecting a paper which had been issued from the Secretary of State's office, proceeding from the Registrar General, on the subject of the census, and which had given occasion to considerable alarm. The paper in question had been directed to be addressed to the clergyman, the officiating minister, or any other person in the parish; and, if required, the party with whom the notice was left to give intimation of the total income of the clergyman of the parish, the sources from which it was derived—whether from endowments, pew-rents, fees, donations, ? and, further, it required a statement of the average number of persons who attended each place of worship within the parish. Now, he (Mr. Goulburn) had always understood that the object of the census was to procure certain information with reference to a particular class of facts; and, therefore, as the information sought by the paper to which he had referred was uncertain, it appeared to him that it would have a tendency to defeat the object of the census itself. With respect to the inquiry into the income of a clergyman of a parish by any one to whom the notice was sent, the House would excuse him for asking the right hon. Gentleman whether it would be compulsory upon parties to make the return?


replied, that the paper which had been issued by the Registrar General in order to procure information with respect to the census was divided into two classes of queries: the first class was addressed to parties under the Act of Parliament, and the withholding of answers to the queries in that class was subject to a penalty. The other class comprised, not only the questions which had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, but a great many others of a nature calculated to procure valuable information; and to these queries the Registrar General requested parties to furnish him with answers; but the withholding of answers to that class of queries was not subject to a penalty. The right hon. Gentleman, however, was not quite right in saying that the letter of the Registrar General was addressed to the officiating clergyman "or any other person in the parish." If he examined the document, he would see that it was addressed to the officiating minister, the churchwarden, or "some other authorised person," in the absence of the clergyman; but, in point of fact, it was addressed to the officiating minister in every instance.