HC Deb 01 April 1881 vol 260 cc463-4

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether there is any objection to delivering the Census papers to the enumerators in a sealed envelope; and, what directions have been given to prevent the papers in question being used for the gratification of private curiosity?


Sir, there is no objection to the delivery of Census schedules to the enumerator in a sealed envelope, other than the delay and trouble which the opening will cause. The enumerator, in order to carry out his instructions, must examine the schedules and see that the required particulars are properly entered. Among the illiterate classes, the enumerator, it is found, has himself to fill up 50 per cent of the schedules. With regard to privacy, the apprehension of individuals that the contents of the schedule will become known in the neighbourhood is, I think, unfounded. The enumerator is for this purpose a Government officer, and page 20 of his book of instructions contains this warning to him—— You will bear in mind that the householders' schedules are to be regarded as of a confidential character, it being expressly stated upon each that the facts will be published in general abstracts only, and strict care will be taken that the returns are not used for the gratification of private curiosity. It will be highly improper, therefore, for any Census officer to give publicity to any portion of their contents, or to allow them to be examined by any unauthorized persons for any purpose whatever.