HC Deb 06 August 1890 vol 348 cc20-46

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2.

(2.10.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)

I think Irish Members interested in this Bill have reason to complain of the way in which it has been dealt with. It may be in the recollection of the Committee that the Second Reading was taken a fortnight ago, and the Committee stages of the English and Scotch Census Bills were taken on the following day. I do not know why such an interval has been allowed to elapse before taking this stage, and it is unfortunate that several Irish Members interested in the subject have left town in the interval. Reading the three Bills one cannot but be greatly struck with the differences between this Bill and the English and Scotch Bills. The Amendments which I have on the Paper are in no sense intended to obstruct the progress of the Bill; in fact, I have never obstructed the business of the House, and I am not likely to begin the practice on a subject of this kind. Anyone who looks at the Amendments will see from their character that my intention mainly is to assimilate the Census Law in Ireland to that of England and Scotland, and this I wish to do in three particulars principally: first, as regards the mode of taking the census; secondly, as to the nature of the particulars to be inquired into; and thirdly, as to the time when the abstract of the results is to be laid before Parliament. In the first place there is a radical distinction in the ways in which the Irish Bill and the English and Scotch Bills are drawn. In England and Scotland it is provided that in the week ending with the Census day, officials shall leave or cause to be left at every house in the district, a Schedule or paper containing certain definite questions, the answers to which are to be filled in by the occupier, and the paper to be returned. But the Irish Census Bill contains no single word in reference to this matter; there is not a word requiring that a paper shall be left at the house, and, so far as the working of the Bill is concerned, there is nothing to prevent the Constabulary or the Dublin Metropolitan Police, who act as enumerators, calling at the house the day after the Census night and then ascertaining by mere verbal inquiry from the occupants the various particulars sought to be obtained. I daresay I shall be told that in practice the distinction is not so great as it seems in theory, and that in the last Census papers were employed. Yes, they were, but the whole thing was done not by means of papers, but partly by verbal inquiries, subsequent to the giving out and receiving of papers, inquiries in some cases of a most inquisitorial character, inquiries which I say no enumerators, even if they were of a civil character such as they are in England and Scotland, ought to be allowed to make, still less when they are Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, having in view the strained relations which often exist between the Constabulary and the people. For instance, an inquiry such as this, I think the Committee will agree, is wholly improper: Persons are returned as deaf and dumb, and a circular is sent round requiring Sub-Inspectors to find out the causes for this affliction, whether it is due to fright, or supposed fright, to the mother before the birth of the child, or whether it may be due to other causes, such as the inter-marriage of cousins. Now, it does seem to me inquiries such as these are highly inquisitorial, and if you adopted the English system, an honest and a straightforward system, setting down distinctly certain questions to be answered, and not going beyond these, then you would have a method that would not discourage those feelings of self-respect which we are anxious to generate among the people. You should go about the business practically and directly by Act of Parliament, and not by instructions from the Lord Lieutenant, and it is for security that this should be done, as in England, with protection for the self-respect and liberties of the people. I beg to move my Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, leave out from "shall," to "visit," in line 16, inclusive, and insert— Shall in the course of the week ending on the Saturday next before the Census day, leave or cause to be left at."—(Mr. W. Macdonald.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


I am quite certain, from the character of the Amendments he has put down, and from the tone of the hon. Member's speech, that he and the Government are at one in the endeavour to obtain the same result, namely, to have this Census taken for Ireland in as perfect a manner as is possible. I am bound to say that I go to a great extent with the speech of the hon. Member. My right hon. Friend and I have considered the matter very carefully, and with the Report of the Census of 1881 before us, in order to see how the work was then carried out. I quite agree with two principles underlying the Amendments of the hon. Member. I think it is desirable there should be a limit placed upon the character and nature of the inquiries, a statutory limit, as in the English and Scotch Bills. This is the first principle which underlies the Amendment of the hon. Member. The second principle he is anxious to enforce is also, I think, a very good one, that the necessary information shall be acquired, as far as it possibly can be, by means of papers left at the houses of residents, to be filled up by the occupants, oral inquiry being resorted to only when such information is not given, or to make the information clear. I entirely agree with that. I have gone carefully into the matter, and I find that under the Act of 1880, for the purpose of taking the Census in the following year, certain full, careful, and elaborate directions were issued by the Department, and very elaborate forms were, as a matter of fact, left at houses. With reference to inquiries such as must sometimes arise of a somewhat delicate character in reference to lunatics, idiots, &c., I find every care was taken by instructions to insure these inquiries being made with the utmost delicacy. Now it occurs to the Government that the intention of the hon. Member in both respects can be carried out by an Amendment of the Bill, while preserving in substance the method which has been pursued in Ireland in every Census Act since 1841. I observe that when the Census Act of 1880 was before the House there was a discussion in Committee on various matters of detail, not of the exact character of those raised by the hon. Member, but various matters of detail, and I find that Mr. Shaw, speaking on behalf of the Irish Members, stated that the Bill was perfectly satisfactory to the people of Ireland. Now, the present Bill is perfectly identical in form with the Bill Mr. Shaw then accepted as satisfactory, and I think hon. Members on both sides will agree that the results of the inquiries made under the Act of 1880 have been eminently satisfactory, and, so far as the substance of the inquiries and the statistics are concerned, they leave nothing to be desired. But the hon. Member is anxious to go further, and to secure that the language of the Irish Bill should follow that of the English Bill, and that inquiry should not go beyond those questions set down. Well, I would direct the hon. Member's attention to the Amendment of which my hon. Friend has given notice, which I think entirely carries out what we agree is proper to be done, while preserving the machinery of the Irish Acts. This Amendment, which would come in on Clause 4, runs as follows:— Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Census shall be taken by means of, and in the manner prescribed by, the several forms and instructions which were issued under the authority of the Act of the Session of the forty-third and forty-fourth years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter twenty-eight, and which are contained in the Appendix to the General Report of the Commissioners appointed under that Act, dated the twenty-first day of September, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two, and presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, and such matters and particulars as were contained in and prescribed by the said forms and instructions, and no other matters or particulars shall be inserted in the forms and instructions to be prepared under the authority of this Act. I have carefully gone into these forms and instructions, and I am in a position to state to the Committee the exact nature of the inquiries which were made, and no inquiry, as the hon. Member will see, beyond these can be made if the Amendment of my right hon. Friend is adopted. I take the details of the Family Returns, which is that with which the Amendments of the hon. Member principally deal. Name and surname; relationship to head of the family; age; sex; religious profession; rank, profession or occupation; condition of marriage; where born; Irish language; whether deaf, dumb, blind, idiot or lunatic. These are the absolute inquiries, and no more; and therefore I think the Amendment of the Chief Secretary will give, in substance, what the hon. Member desires to obtain, and no more. As a matter of convenience, and for purposes of comparison, it is desirable to alter the form of the Bill as little as possible, and having regard to the machinery for carrying out the work. It will be a safer course, I think, to adhere to the outlines of the Acts passed by successive Parliaments since 1841, rather than to make changes in the working of a system which, in its result, compares not unfavourable with that in England. I certainly would urge the Committee to retain the old form, only making those changes which will ensure the object we have in view.

(2.27.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

The right hon. Gentleman has quoted Mr. Shaw, the leader of the Irish Party in 1886, in reference to the Bill of that year, but he has not informed the Committee, as I think he should have done, that the words used had reference to the religious census.


I said, distinctly, the points of detail under discussion were different, but that Mr. Shaw said of the Bill that it was satisfactory.


But it was in reference to the matter under discussion—the religious census. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the particular form employed by the enumerators in 1881, and he spoke of it as if there had been only one form employed, whereas, in fact, there were several forms. I admit, if there is a limitation to the particular form he cited, then the difficulty will be largely got over. But I do not gather that is the intention, but that the limitation is to include all the forms used in taking the census in 1881. There was a form of inquiry which included information as to the outbuildings in connection with every man's house, and I cannot for the life of me understand what advantage there is knowing whether a particular outhouse is used as a cow-house or a calf-house—I suppose they are distinct in some way—or whether it is a boiling house or anything else. This is an inquisition which will be carried on by the constabulary. I do not see what right the Government have to ask these things, nor do I understand what advantage can possibly be derived from the collection of these statistics. It is well worth noting that on a subject on which information is really desirable, namely, that of sanitary accommodation, not a single word is asked. It is a monstrous thing that the police should be directed to make all these inquiries. You only do it because you have been in the habit of governing Ireland as a conquered country, and because the people are terrorised more or less by the police. And then in regard to the educational census, not only are inquiries made as to the number of persons in a school or college on a given day, but also as to the studies in which each person engages. I do not think that such inquiries should be made without the consent of the House is first obtained. The questions as to afflicted persons are very inquisitorial. Not only must the paper set forth the nature of the affliction, but it is asked whether the person afflicted was born so; what is the cause of the affliction; whether it is due to fright, to the blood relationship of the parents, or to hereditary transmission. I say it must be extremely painful for the relatives of these poor people to be asked such questions as these by policemen. It is both ungenerous and unmanly to ask them, and the act is all the worse because you impose a penalty of £5 for refusal to answer. You have established a police terrorism, for you place the constables in a position so to put a question as to induce the people not to answer, and then to punish the refusal. The Government are always telling us that the laws for England and Ireland are equal; if they are, then you will give the Irish people the protection which you give to Englishmen and to Scotchmen, and you will not enforce this inquisitorial system.

(2.38.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)

We object to this Bill because it differs essentially from the English and Scottish Census Bills. Under the English Bill a definite and clear return to be filled in has to be left at every house; but in the case of Ireland, the police are instructed to put a number of verbal inquiries of a most inquisitorial character. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted Mr. Shaw's expression of approval of the forms which have been in use since 1841. It is true that he did approve them, but it must be remembered that the present temper of the people of Ireland differs from that which prevailed in 1880, and they are not so ready to submit to questioning of this nature. I think it is sought, by means of this census, to obtain many unnecessary particulars. For instance, the christian and surnames of all inmates of hospitals and asylums are to be given. Why would it not be sufficient to give the initials? I do not see the object of these inquisitorial proceedings, which are made the more objectionable because you employ constables for the work instead of civilians.

(2.43.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I think the reply of the right hon. Gentleman has not met the objections of my hon. Friend. He desires that the same course shall be pursued in Ireland as is adopted in England, that the census paper shall be left in advance at the house, and that when it has been properly filled up, there shall be no more interrogations about it. I further think there should not be repeated visits, but only one visit, and that the questions put should be relevant to matters not answered on the paper. These inquiries being answered, no further visits should be paid. I am not at all aware that the Chief Secretary's Amendment will prevent the enumerators from causing annoyance and giving offence to the people. The House should remember there is a radical difference between the enumerators in England and in Ireland. In England the particulars are taken by civilians, whose presence is not objectionable to the people, but in Ireland they are taken by the constabulary, and it cannot be disguised that in many districts of the country the relations between the police and the people are such, in consequence of the prosecutions which have been conducted by the constabulary, that there will be a disposition to refuse to answer questions put by them, even though such questions would have been treated as harmless if asked by another person. Again, I would like to know why the inquiry should be more strict, and embrace such a greater variety of subjects in Ireland than it is to in England and Scotland. Surely, what is sufficient in the case of England and Scotland ought to suffice for Ireland. Of course, we are anxious to know what is useful about ourselves. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that Mr. Shaw, in 1880, approved the form of the Bill of that year. But he will not deny that many questions have considerably advanced since then, and that the relations between the people and the constabulary have become much more strained. Our ideas with regard to the rights of the people have also advanced, and Irishmen are not now disposed to submit to the same hind of inquisition. Of course, if any public, national, or Imperial purpose is to be served by putting these questions, they ought not to be objected to. But there are a large number of questions in the form, the use of which I cannot discover. What use it is to compel the master of a household to state what members of his household are afflicted with disease? There may be some use in ascertaining the proportion of afflicted people to the rest of the population, but there can be no use in making their afflictions public. Again, what is the use of obtaining the names of persons in hospital suffering from disease? Why should their identity be disclosed? It might be painful, and even injurious, to them. It is all very well to ascertain to what extent a disease prevails, but the identity of individuals should not be disclosed. The Irish people are quite as sensitive as other people in the matter of domestic afflictions and calamities, and I can very well imagine the pain that people in Ireland will feel at being called upon to give these details. In the present circumstances of the country it is extremely necessary that the inquiry should be conducted with every consideration and delicacy. If all these details are gone into there will be a widespread disposition on the part of the people not to answer the questions, and the reliability and usefulness of the census will be brought down to a minimum.

(2.56.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I very warmly support the views of my hon. Friend, and I feel most strongly the necessity of limiting these questions in Ireland. I object to the employment of the constabulary for census purposes. It is perfectly plain that they will desire to inflict annoyance on people whom they consider obnoxious, and will make all kinds of offensive inquiries. They will probably go to a man in an offensive and insulting manner, and when he indignantly refuses to reply to the questions put, the police will have it in their power to get him punished. In view of that, I think the inquiries should be limited, and, above all, inquiries of a painful or offensive character should not be made. The number and character of the questions to be asked should be limited to the same dimensions as those provided for by the English Act. The Bill is very different from the Bill for Scotland, and I ask, Is there any reason why that should be so? With regard to the provision requiring the names of persons in hospital suffering from diseases to be furnished, I regard it as nothing more than a piece of useless cruelty, and I hope it will be struck out of the Bill. It is impossible to suppose that it will be in the power of any Government to secure that everyone of its enumerators would be free from spite or some feeling of that kind. It seems to me a useless thing to compel the divulgence of the Christian names and surnames of the persons suffering from various diseases. Such information would have no scientific value whatever. Let them by all means obtain from the doctors of asylums and hospitals such information with respect to the diseases in those institutions as may be necessary to useful medical statistics. But just imagine what would be the result were a doctor, in addition to giving particulars as to the various diseases, to be compelled to give the Christian names and surnames of all the persons suffering from those diseases. I venture to say the hospital would become exceedingly unpopular, and it would be avoided by a great many patients in the future. I think all the necessary information can be obtained without identifying particular persons with particular diseases.


The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has, I think, taken a very appropriate view as to the unpopularity of demanding Christian names and surnames of persons suffering from various diseases. But I would point out that the relations between the people and police in 1881 were more acute than they are now, yet I have not heard that any evil arose from the pursuance of the practice by the police in 1881, when the work of the census was carried out without causing any of the evils which now loom so largely in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite. But I am prepared to meet hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I have to express my willingness to provide for a penalty on any enumerator who divulges a secret obtained by him in exercise of his duty. I am prepared to go further. I am quite ready to meet the one or two specified objections which have been raised by the hon. Member for West Belfast or the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo. The hon. Member for West Belfast said that, in spite of the Amendment I have placed on the Paper, it might be possible to demand answers to questions outside those included in the Schedule used under the Act of 1881. I do not think that could happen, but in order to prevent the possibility of it, I am perfectly ready to amend my Amendment, so that no loophole shall remain through which anything of the kind could be done. I have no objection to extend to workhouses the relaxation which has already been granted under the Act of 1881, and I see no reason for requiring the Christian name and surname.


I made another point. I was anxious that the enumerator should not have the power to make recurrent visits and ask fresh questions.


As regards that point, I have already said that I am prepared to provide that no question outside the form shall be asked. But subsequent questions, from the very nature of the case, must be asked in order to clear up obscure answers. For the sake of accuracy, it would be unfortunate to lay down a provision which would preclude the clearing up of any question not effectually cleared up by the answers already given.


The Act of 1881 included form for second answers, although the answers in the first paper were perfectly conclusive. I think the matter ought to be disposed of in the first paper.


It is sometimes rather difficult to dispose of the matter in the first paper, and I should be unwilling to allow of less opportunity to obtain information than was the case with regard to the last census. Hon. Gentlemen will see that these statistics are not collected in the interests of a particular Party or Government, but, except for scientific and economical investigation, in the interests of the population itself. If the statistics of 1891 are not comparable to the statistics of 1881, the information loses a great deal of worth which it would otherwise possess for scientific and economical purposes. I should be sorry indeed that the increased consideration which hon. Gentlemen have given to the subject since the census of 1881, has led them to the conclusion that, in the interests of Ireland, they should have statistics of less value than those of 1881. The hon. Gentlemen seem to think that the questions asked in Ireland are of a specially inquisitorial character, but in reality they are far less minute than those asked in Switzerland and Germany. I hope hon. Gentlemen, therefore, as the Government have shown no indisposition to meet them, and as they have obviously safeguarded in every possible way the collection of statistics similar to those collected without objection in 1881 in Ireland, will not on their part raise any objection to that which is necessary for the continued value of the Irish census statistics.

(3.14.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

I would point out that there is still a broad line of demarcation between us and the Chief Secretary. According to the Amendment now explained by the Chief Secretary, these subsequent questions will continue to be asked. In fact, all the 21 forms will be put in force, and all these inquisitorial questions about sick and afflicted people will be asked, and repeated visits will be made: In the first Return people are to mention if anybody belonging to them is sick, and then for the subsequent Return the police are to find out, not merely in private houses, but in hospitals, from what diseases the patients are suffering, and how they were acquired. I say there is no right to make such inquiries, which merely harass and persecute the people. Again, you require statistics which I say are of no interest either from a scientific or any other point of view, such as statements relating to outbuildings and so forth. What good is done by ascertaining whether a man has an interest in a cow-house or a piggery. All these statistics are practically useless. I should not object to inquiries which might lead to information of any real value, but I object to such questions as I have referred to, and which are utterly unimportant from a statistical, scientific, or any other point of view.


I would point out to the hon. Member that he is entering upon a discussion of a very general character, and not confining himself to the Amendment before the Committee. I think the time has come when it is desirable that the discussion should be limited to the Amendment.

(3.18.) MR. SEXTON

Possibly my hon. Friend might have shortened his remarks if the Chief Secretary had agreed to an arrangement under which all these questions could have been put at one visit. We strongly object to two visits from the police in order to get the people to fill up these papers, and this objection applies with special force to the inhabitants of the rural districts. We want to save them a second visit from the police, and I may put that as our first objection, our second objection is that there is no limitation as to hours at which these visits may be paid. We say that they should be made at daylight, as it would be highly inconvenient if they were allowed to be made at night, after dark. There surely can be no objection on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to limiting the hours of these visits to between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, remembering that they are to be made in the month of April.


There is no objection whatever to the visits being made by daylight, and I will take care that they shall not be made after dark. With regard to the other point with reference to a second visit, that is a matter upon which I should like to have the opportunity of consulting the Registrar General. I will, therefore, put down the Report stage of the Bill for Friday next, in order that I may have time to make the necessary inquiry.

Question put, and agreed to.


I move that the hours at which the visits shall be paid shall be between 10 in the forenoon and 4 in the afternoon.

Amendment agreed to.

(3.23.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

I have now to move a further Amendment standing in my name, Clause 2, page 1, line 21, after the word "age" insert "capacity to read and write." When I first put down this Amendment, I had hoped and expected that the Government would have made the same provision with regard to England and Scotland. It seems to me to be reasonable that they should ascertain whether the people generally could read and write, but I was met by the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) that it would be an invidious thing to ask anyone whether he could read and write. Therefore, the question stands thus: You have no objection to ask an invidious question of the Irish people, while you refuse to put it to those of England and Scotland. The value of the statistics will, of course, be greatly reduced by the want of the means of comparison as between educational attainments of the people of Ireland and Great Britain. I, however, merely move this Amendment and merely leave the matter in the hands of the Committee.


The Committee will perceive that I can hardly accept this Amendment, because it is inconsistent with the view I laid down a short time ago.

Motion made, and Question, "That these words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

(3.25.) MR. P. J. O'BRIEN (Tipperary, N.)

I think the clause ought not to pass if the work of obtaining the Returns remains in the hands of the police, and I wish earnestly to impress on the Government the desirability of employing in Ireland a similar force to that which is employed in England in obtaining the census statistics. It may be that to-day a body of police may, under the orders of the Chief Secretary, be called upon to smash up a meeting of several thousands of people, and next day to go round to the people's houses seeking information for the purposes of the census. In such a case it is very probable there would be numerous refusals to afford any information whatever. Take the case of Drogheda, where the people are not allowed to travel over the country without passes from the police. Are those people likely to give the police any information as to their private affairs? The Government ought to see that only those persons are employed to collect this information who have the respect of the people. Take the case of Tipperary, where we have recently had many baton charges. Is it wise to send the men to ask for information from those whose heads they have so recently smashed? As one of those who had his head smashed, I say it is very unlikely that such persons will give the required information to the police. They would be much more likely to tear up the papers, which in many cases might be regarded as summonses or warrants, because, as a rule, they are the only kind of papers which the police are employed to take to the people. What is likely to happen in such cases as those of Letterkenny, Coolgreany, and the Olphert and Massarene estates? At Coolgreany a man was shot down under the eyes of the police, and no attempt was made by the Government to bring the murderer to justice. In such a place the police will hardly be likely to get the information they may ask for. I would add that even in Belfast, the police, if sent to Sandy Row, would hardly obtain such information from the people. Moreover, it is well-known in Ireland that a traveller who loses some portion of his property is hardly likely to recover it through information given by the people to the police. They will give it to the parish priest, but not to the constabulary. I would suggest, as an alternative, that the Government should employ either the national teachers, the clerks of Unions, the Petty Sessional clerks, the postmen, or the rate collectors; through either or all of those bodies the necessary information might be obtained. It is expecting too much from human nature to suppose that these people who have been treated as the Irish people generally are treated by the police, will give information to members of that force. I would earnestly and respectfully press upon the right hon. Gentleman that if he wants good and satisfactory information, he should employ in its collection a different body of men to the police. I agree with one of my hon. Colleagues as to the necessity of limiting the number of questions, and I hope upon the points I have put, the Chief Secretary will be able to give the Committee a satisfactory assurance. Is it not too much to expect of the people that they should submit to be questioned in this way by the police? I think the Government will see that, in the interest of the accurary of the Census Return, it will be better to carry out my suggestion.

(3.31.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I should be sorry were the discussion to degenerate into an argument as to the merits of the police, or the merits of the Irish policy of the present Government. I would remind hon. Members that, on the whole, it appears that the police have been able to carry out those functions in Ireland which are not specially associated with their duty as policemen, to the general satisfaction of the inhabitants, even in those parts of the country where it is urged that they are brought into conflict with the police.


If the right hon. Gentleman refers to the agrarian statistics, we dispute their accuracy.


Yes; but there are other matters. From every inquiry I have been able to make, and from every deduction I have been able to draw from the experience of the last census, I think there will be no reason to fear that collusion and friction between the enumerators and the population which is foreshadowed by hon. Members. If we thought that any such result was likely it would be a matter of grave anxiety to us, but we do not think there is any ground for the ominous forecast which the hon. Members have made.

(3.33.) MR. SEXTON

I think the right hon. Gentleman can hardly deny that the Constabulary Force in Ireland has had imposed on it a great variety of embarrassing functions. These constables are to make inquiries in the district in which they carry out their ordinary duties, and, undoubtedly, if a man has broken a bead to-day, he is not the most proper person to make inquiries of the person to-morrow. There can be no doubt that the agents mentioned by my hon. Friend as enumerators would, in present circumstances, collect the census more smoothly and more trustworthily than the Constabulary Force. If the right hon. Gentleman will undertake that instructions shall be given enjoining the police, as a matter of duty, that they are to intrude as little as possible on the domestic life of the people, and that in the course of making inquiries they shall comport themselves with courtesy, and in a respectful manner, I shall advise my hon. Friend not to press his objection.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

If this instruction has to be put into the clause, I do not think the police are competent to carry out the duty.

(3.36.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I think the object is met by the general regulations laid down by the Registrar General, but if there is any deficiency in that respect, I shall be glad to see them amended.


Will the right hon. Gentleman be willing to issue instructions as to the putting of inquisitorial questions?


Does the Family Return include inquiries as to illness which might be considered of an inquisitorial character?


Every care will be taken to issue proper instructions.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 4.

(3.39.) Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 19, at the end to add the words— Subject to the provisions of this Act, the census shall be taken by means of, and in the manner prescribed by, the several forms and instructions which were issued under the authority of the Act of the Session of the 43rd and 44th years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter 28, and which are contained in the appendix to the general Report of the Commissioners appointed under that Act, dated September 21, 1882, and presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, and such matters and particulars as were contained in, and prescribed by, the said forms and instructions, and no other matters or particulars shall be inserted in the forms and instructions to be prepared under the authority of this Act; and no question shall be put for the purpose of obtaining information other than the information required by such forms and instructions, provided that, in the case of Hospital Returns, it shall be sufficient, instead of the same and surname of each inmate, to state the initial letters only of such name and surname."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

(3.42.) MR. SEXTON

The Word "hospital" is not sufficient. The same principle ought to be applied to all institutions to which patients are admitted.


Would "hospitals, workhouses, asylums, and gaols," satisfy the hon. Gentleman?


That part of the Amendment would more properly come in Clause 3.

(3.43.) MR. SEXTON

What redress will be provided in case the police insist on putting unnecessary questions?


I do not know what we can do more than prescribe the questions, and say no others are to be put. Nothing more is done in England.

Amendment amended by the omission of the words from "provided that in the case of hospital Returns," to end.

Amendment, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Clause 5.

(3.44.) MR. SEXTON

I think the words "or further particulars" are unnecessary. They look like an invitation to the police to make excursions into unnecessary matters.


The hon. Gentleman is unnecessarily apprehensive.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6.

(3.45.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

This is a very important clause, because of the penal consequences. According to the clause, as it stands, anyone is liable to a fine not exceeding £5 for not answering questions put to him, for giving a false question, or for obstructing the police. I propose that, instead of this, you should simply take the provision of the English and Scotch Bill, and impose a penalty for refusing to fill up the papers, or making a false Return. It appears to me very evident that you are going to have a much larger inquiry for Ireland than for England and Scotland. If this inquiry is to be made a good one, and one that will be of any real use at all, the concurrence of the people is necessary. You ought not to impose penalties unnecessarily. The Government have met us, to a certain extent, in the Amendments they have made. It is now distinctly provided that the Return will be made simply by papers left at people's houses. What is more reasonable than to say that people will be fined if they wilfully refuse to fill up the papers, or wilfully falsify the Return? That is quite in conformity with the custom of England and Scotland, and I think it is as much as you have any right to ask. Take the case of deaf and dumb people. Are you going to ask when and why they became deaf and dumb, because it might happen that an unfortunate mother would not care to say, the affliction was the result of a fright she had before she gave birth to the child. Are you going to prosecute a woman for refusing information on such a matter? You have no right to do anything of the sort.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 6, page 2, line 26, leave out from "every," to "pounds," in line 31, and insert— If any occupier wilfully refuses or without lawful excuse neglects to fill up the said schedule to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, or to sign and deliver the same as herein required, or who wilfully makes, signs, or delivers, or causes to be made, signed, or delivered, any false return of all or any of the matters specified in the said schedule, he or she shall forfeit a sum not exceeding five pounds."—(Mr. W. A. Macdonald.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

(3.50.) MR. SEXTON

I think the point raised by the Amendment of my hon. Friend is well worthy of attention. There is one person in each house who would be naturally called upon to answer, and I think it would be expedient that the penalty should be limited to that person. One of the objects of my hon. Friend is that it should not be at the discretion of the Government to distribute these penalities amongst all the persons in a family, whether or not they were competent to answer the questions or not. I do not think the acceptance of the Amendment would really limit the efficiency of the collection of the census. What is the penalty in England? If any person refuses to answer, or answers falsely, he may be liable to a fine of £5. The Committee will observe that in England there are only two things for which the penalty can be imposed. In the Irish Bill, however, there is a third cause of penalty, and that is wilfully obstructing. What is this wilful obstruction that is to be punished, which, if it occurs in England, is not to be punished? Wherever there is wilful obstruction there must also be a refusal to answer. I must press for the exclusion of these differentiating words in the Irish Bill.

(3.53.) MR. MADDEN

This clause has been found to work well for a great many years, but, as I understand the hon. Member, he agrees that refusing to answer or wilfully giving a false answer would amount to obstruction. [Mr. SEXTON: Yes.] It is possible there may be obstruction quite independent of refusing to answer. For instance, the door may be shut in the enumerator's face [Mr. SEXTON: That may happen in England.] I am not responsible for the English Act. The machinery in Ireland for taking the census has been found to work well, and I put it to the hon. Member that there may be obstruction which is something over and above refusing to answer.

(3.54.) SIR H. JAMES (Lancashire, Bury)

I would suggest the withdrawal of the clause, and the bringing up of a fresh clause on Report. This Clause 6 was intended to meet cases of the non-answering of questions, but you are now going to make a Return in writing, and, therefore, "answering such questions" in Clause 6 are not apt words to deal with the state of things under the amended Bill. It would be better to re-consider this clause, which I do not think, in its present form, will be of any avail whatever.

(3.55.) MR. SEXTON

I cannot consider the Irish Bill superior to the English Bill, because there are more penalties. You have had the census taken four times in Ireland in the course of the last half century, and what I want to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland is this: Has such obstruction arisen in Ireland as to make this penalty necessary? I am not aware of it. Considering the spirit in which the Debate has been conducted, and the people of Ireland will probably take their tone from the tone of the Debate, I think it would tend to the efficiency of the census if you were to strike out the penalty. I have no fear that any obstruction will be given, and I think it would be really prudent on your part to strike out the penalty.

(3.56.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

It is agreed that where a man locks his door, so that the police cannot ask the necessary questions, he ought to be punished. It is also agreed that the punishment is not excessive, and it is further agreed that if the words proposed to be omitted are left out it will be possible for the inhabitant to do anything to prevent the necessary questions being put. If any competent lawyer in the House will say the offence of simply shutting the door against the police will be adequately met by the clause, as amended in the way the hon. Gentleman desires, I have not the least objection to the Amendment. If, on the other hand, the Legal Authorities in the House are of opinion that the case of obstruction would not be met by the clause as proposed to be amended, I am sure hon. Gentlemen will agree we ought to leave the clause as it is.

(3.58.) MR. SEXTON

The same thing may occur in England or Scotland, and yet there is no provision such as this in the English or Scottish Bill. I imagine that if you appeal to the people of Ireland in the same intelligent spirit in which you appeal to the people of England and Scotland the same results will follow.

(3.59.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

Is it to be understood that refusal to answer questions would be regarded as obstruction?


There are no questions put in England: it is more a case of receiving a paper and filling it up. This clause is intended to meet the case of Clause 2 in the original Bill. Now, you have altered it by adopting the system of making a Return on paper, and yet you are keeping Clause 6 for non-answering questions. What is the meaning of the words "such questions" in Clause 6? Suppose a Return is not filled up at all, do you mean to have any penalty? If so, your Clause 6 does not provide for it.


If a Return is not filled up in England there is a penalty. If a Return is not filled up in Ireland the enumerator calls, and it is for not answering the questions then put that the penalty is inflicted.


Suppose a person locks his door and will not make a Return, what penalty have you for that?


That would be obstructing.


I do not agree with you.


Clearly, if a man shuts his door in the face of the enumerator, whose duty it is to put the questions, he is obstructing the enumerator in the discharge of his duty.


Why not provide that the penalty shall be inflicted for not making the Return? The present words are certainly ambiguous.

(4.5.) MR. SEXTON

These general words about wilful obstruction may give rise in the hands of an undisciplined constable to no end of abuse. I am persuaded that "refusing to give answers" would cover such a case as shutting the door in the face of the enumerator. The words of which we complain might apply to many things which are not in the contemplation of the Committee.

(4.7.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

What we desire to penalise is, in the first place, a refusal to make a Return; secondly, a refusal to answer questions which are legally put; and, thirdly, a refusal to allow a question which may be put to be put. We will undertake to bring up a fresh clause on Report which will meet the views of hon. Members.

(4.8.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

Is it intended that there shall be a penalty in respect of a refusal to answer subsequent questions? A form will be left with a man before the census day. One of the questions to be answered is whether a person is deaf or deaf and dumb. When the paper is filled up, the policeman will take it to his superior officer. The superior officer may see that such and such person is returned as deaf and dumb, and he may require that it should be stated whether that person was born deaf and dumb. In fact, under this Bill a number of subsequent questions, which are quite unknown in England, may be asked, and I want to know whether any penalty can be inflicted if a person refuses to answer.

(4.9.) MR. SEXTON

I think the principle ought to be accepted, that when a responsible person makes an answer to any question his answer should be accepted, that he should not, by means of subsequent questions, be subjected to a kind of cross-examination.

(4.10.) MR. MADDEN

There will be nothing inquisitorial or of the nature of cross-examination. Perhaps, instead of postponing the matter until Report, I could now suggest an Amendment which would meet the views of hon. Members. I suggest that the clause should read—"Every person refusing to allow any such question to be put, or refusing to answer, or wilfully giving a false answer to such questions," taking out the words "or wilfully obstructing."

Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

(4.11.) MR. SEXTON

You provide a penalty in case a person refuses to answer a proper question put to him, but you provide for no penalty on an enumerator if he puts a question which is not proper. If you do not care about providing for a penalty in such a case, I certainly think the instructions to the enumerators should show most clearly that no unnecessary question is to be put.


There shall be a distinct clause in the instructions to that effect.

MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Mayo, S.)

You have a penalty for breach of secrecy; why not have a penalty for insolence and unnecessary questions?

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 (The persons taking the accounts to certify and affirm as to their correctness, and deliver them to the officer appointed to receive them).

Amendment proposed, in Clause 6, page 2, line 30, after the word "refusal," to insert "or."—(Mr. Madden.)

Question, "That this word be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 6, page 2, line 30, to leave out the words, "or wilful obstruction."—(Mr. Madden.)

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 (Penalty on persons employed if guilty of wilful default or neglect).

Amendment proposed, in Clause 7, page 2, line 38, after the word "accounts," to insert— Or who shall make any communication or disclosure of any information obtained by him in taking the said accounts for any other object than that of rendering the census as complete as possible."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

(4.15.) MR. WEBB

We recognise in this Amendment a desire to meet us. I will, therefore, ask leave to withdraw a clause to same effect I had placed on the Paper. We are anxious that the census should be properly taken, and we think that special publicity ought to be given to this clause, and to the instructions to the enumerators regarding the delicacy with which they should pursue their inquiries.


What is meant by "allow"?


That applies to every question that could be legally put.


I scarcely appreciate the settlement.


If the door was shut in the face of the enumerator that would be met by the words "every person refusing to allow such questions to be put."


Will the Amendment cover the point I raised as to subsequent questions?


My view is, that when a definite answer is given to a definite question, that answer should not be made the subject of cross-examination. If a subsequent distinct inquiry becomes necessary, it is a distinct question and must be distinctly answered.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 6, page 2, after the word "to," to insert the words "allow any such questions to be put or."—(Mr. Madden.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 6, page 2, leave out from the word "them," in line 27, to the word "shall," in line 29.—(Mr. Madden.)

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

(4.22.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

I beg to propose to leave out "twelve," in line 39, and insert "five." This is a very reasonable Amendment, and I hope the Government will see their way to accept it. An abstract in the case of England and Scotland is to be laid before Parliament in five months, but in the case of Ireland a period of twelve months is allowed for the preparation of the abstract. The officers in Ireland are not at all over-worked; they are well paid; and I do not see why the Irish abstract should not be presented at the same time as that for England and Scotland.

Amendment proposed, in Clause 9, page 3, line 39, to leave out the word "twelve," and insert "five."—(Mr. W. A. Macdonald.)

(4.23.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

As a matter of fact, the Irish Returns were in some former years laid before Parliament sooner than the English Returns, but I think it better not to fix the shorter time in the Bill, as the limited staff in Ireland may possibly not be able to get the Returns ready within the time named.

(4.24.) MR. SEXTON

I remember that in 1881 the Irish Department did outstrip the English Department, and that the efficiency of the Department in Ireland was a matter of congratulation in this House at the time. I have no doubt that, for the credit of the Department, the Registrar General will be very happy to abbreviate the period of 12 months as much as possible.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(4.25.) MR. W. A. MACDONALD

I beg to move the second new clause, which I consider to be essential. There are in every country a number of persons who, unfortunately, are houseless, besides many others who are travelling on the day the census is taken, and they ought to be enumerated as far as possible. I leave it to the Chief Secretary to propose a method for obtaining a census of these persons. There is very inadequate provision in the Bill for obtaining a Return as to travellers. Every hotel keeper and lodging-house keeper is required the day after the census day to put down the names of the persons who have visited the hotels or lodging-houses. It seems to me that the proper period to fix would be the census night and not the night after. And, then, as I say, there is no provision at all for endeavouring to enumerate houseless persons, although to render the census complete it is essential that a record of such people should be taken, and to effect it it seems to me that some such clause as that I have put on the Paper should be accepted. I may say that the clause I move is in the English Act. It is as follows:— The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant shall obtain, by such means as shall appear to him best adapted for the purpose, returns of the particulars required by this Act with respect to all houseless persons, and all persons who during the night of the census day were travelling or on shipboard, or for any other reason were not abiding in any house of which account is to be taken by the appointed persons, and shall cause such returns to be included in the abstract to be laid before Parliament.

New Clause (Provision as to houseless persons) brought up, and read the first time.

Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time".

(4.29.) MR. SEXTON

This provision is contained in the English Act and the Scotch Act, and it is obviously requisite that it should be inserted in the Irish Bill if we are to have a complete census of the population. There will always be a certain number of persons who are not housed, and unless some account is taken of them, the census will not be complete. There cannot be any objection to allowing the police to deal with the matter. The police, I think, would be best able to do so, and it is a task which might very well be committed to them.

(4.30.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

As it is desirable to have as complete a census, as possible, I think I can very properly accept the clause of the hon. Member.

Question put, and agreed to.

Preamble agreed to.

(4.37.) Bill reported; as amended, to be considered to-morrow.