§ (1) Schedules shall be prepared by or under the direction of the Local Government Board for the purpose of being filled up by or on behalf of the several occupiers of dwelling-houses with the following particulars, and no others, namely, particulars as to—
- (a) the name, sex, age, profession or occupation, condition as to marriage, relation to head of family, birthplace, and (in the case of a person born abroad) nationality, of every living person who abode in every house on the night of the Census day; and
- (b) whether any person who so abode was blind, deaf, dumb, imbecile or lunatic; and
- (c) in the case of any person who so abode being married, the duration of marriage, and the number of children born of the marriage; and
- (d) the number of rooms inhabited; and
- (e) in the case of Wales or the county of Monmouth, whether any person who so abode (being of three years of age or upwards) speaks English only or Welsh only, or both English and Welsh.
§ (2) Every enumerator shall in the course of the week ending on the Saturday next before the Census day leave at every dwelling-house within his enumeration district one or more of these schedules for the occupier thereof or of any part thereof, and on every such schedule shall be plainly expressed that it is to be filled up by the occupier for whom it is left, and that the enumerator will collect all such schedules within his district on the Monday then next following.
§ (3) Every occupier for whom any such schedule has been so left shall fill up or cause to be filled up the schedule, to the best of his knowledge and belief, so far as relates to all persons dwelling in the house, tenement, or apartment occupied by him, and shall sign his name thereto, and shall deliver the schedule so filled up and signed to the enumerator when required so to do.
§ (4) In this Section the expression "dwelling-house" shall include every building and tenement of which the whole or any part is used for the purpose of human habitation, and where a dwelling- house is let or sublet in different tenements or apartments and occupied distinctly by different persons or families a separate schedule shall be left with or for and shall be filled up by the occupier of each such distinct tenement or apartment.
§ (5) For the purposes of this Section, a person who is travelling or at work on the night of the Census day, and who returns to a house on the morning of the following day, shall be treated as abiding in that house on the night of the Census day.
§ Mr. GOLDMAN
moved, in Sub-section (1), in paragraph (a), to insert after the word "occupation" the words "And in the case of every occupied person under eighteen years the amount of his earnings from all sources in the previous year."
I hope this Amendment will commend itself to the Committee. The question of child, or juvenile labour, is one that appeals to the mind of everyone interested in questions of social reform. We are all agreed that many children are forced into the labour market because they are obliged to provide an increment for their parents who happen to be old, or perhaps the child 245 has to provide for a widowed mother. There are occasions when children, either previous to or after the school hours, are obliged to do a certain amount of work. There are also certain cases, and a large number of them, where you find parents depending upon their children's earnings in order to satisfy their own cravings for drink. In cases like this we increase and encourage the intemperance which otherwise might be removed. It is very essential to have statistics to show to what extent the whole question of juvenile labour is enforced in this country at this moment. We have statistics I know from the Census providing for a certain amount of information as regards the employment of people, but I doubt whether the parents in giving the information will include or give the occupation of those children who at present attend school but work either before or after school hours.
The whole question of juvenile labour is one seriously engaging the attention of the country. The Poor Law Commission, which dealt with this question, said that about the most important problem to their minds to be solved was the question of casual labour, the cause of which they said was the premature manner in which children after they leave school drift into employment not of a permanent character, but of a merely temporary character, which offers no scope for them as men. In other words, that towns and the conditions that exist to-day provide for certain men to be employed, but give no hope for any permanence in that particular employment. And after a time the boy has drifted out into the casual labouring classes, and from there to the unemployable classes.
Here is a case for statistical information to enable us to deal with that problem when it arrives. At the present moment we have not sufficient information, and the best way to meet that situation is to have statistical information telling not only of the occupation of the child, but what the occupation is worth. The Board of Trade instituted an inquiry with regard to the wages and hours of labour, and I believe such inquiry is taking place at the present moment; but that information will only give us statistics with regard to the better class of labour, and in all probability would not deal with the situation to which I have referred—that is, the position of school children earning money while engaged in their elementary training. It is for these reasons that I wish to propose the Amendment which stands in my name. 246 I am not wedded to the wording of it, and I would be perfectly agreeable to accept any change in the wording provided that the principle is adopted in regard to the scope of the information required.
§ Mr. BURNS
I trust the hon. Member will not press his Amendment in regard to the amount of earnings from all sources of persons under eighteen years of age. May I point out to him with regard to juvenile labour some information will be supplied from the Schedule to the Census, because the Schedule will ask for the profession or occupation of all persons aged ten years and upwards, which will be answered by the regular head or occupier of the house, or whoever fills his place. It seems to me, so far as the measure of juvenile employment is concerned we will get, so far as occupation goes, the ages, and we will secure statistical figures, with which, I trust, the hon. Member will be content.
But, then, the hon. Member invites us to say, not only the age at which persons are employed and the trade at which they are employed, from ten to eighteen years of age, but also the amount of their earnings. Those responsible for the Census tell us there will be great difficulty in securing right information, and they advise us not to adopt that course. I think if the information was secured it would not be worth much, because it would be different in all varieties of juvenile labour —for instance, the milk-boy, the newspaper-boy, and the half-timer. It is no good ascertaining whether a boy gets 4s. 6d. after thirteen or fourteen years of; age unless you could follow that up with question in reference to another fact, namely, does he work forty hours, or sixty or seventy hours, for 4s., for three or four or six or seven days; and if you enter upon the very complex question of the total earnings of all children from ten to fourteen years of age, of are asking for statistics from children and young persons which if you were to secure them would be almost worthless for the purposes for which the hon. Gentleman himself requires them.
§ Question, "That these words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Mr. JAMES PARKER
moved, in. paragraph (a), after the word "occupation," to insert the words, "whether unemployed or retired, and, if the former, how long during the previous twelve months."
247 It is with considerable diffidence that I rise to move this Amendment. Since the Amendment was placed upon the Paper I have had considerable conversation with those who know a good deal about the taking of the Census, and I am informed that the difficulties in adding this item of information to the Census paper are considerably more than some of us anticipate. It will be agreed by every section of the House that it is necessary to have accurate figures with regard to the problem of unemployment. However much we may differ as to the cause of that unemployment, or what the rate is, we have no accurate information as to the question itself, and if by any means it is possible by adding another column to the Census paper to provide that information it would be for the advantage of the community as a whole and of those who are anxious to get facts with regard to this question.
The trade unions who supply out-of-work pay can give data with regard to particular employments, but those trade unions who do not pay out-of-work benefits have no reliable statistics with respect to the problem of unemplyoment. The distress committees are also able to give us certain information; but both those sources of information and the information we get from the new Labour Exchanges do not give us all the information necessary. The information under a Census could be supplied complete. I notice lower down on the Paper there is an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Northampton to provide information as to the number of days of unemployment during the previous week. Objection may be taken to the Amendment I move on the ground that it would be impossible for persons to state how many days they have been out of work during the previous twelve months. That argument, I suggest, could not be employed as to the number of hours a man is out of work the previous week, and I would like to hear from the President of the Local Government Board what are the objections to a column being placed in the Census paper in order to obtain so far as we can reliable statistics as to the measure of unemployment in this country.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
There is an Amendment on the Paper in my name which proposes in paragraph (a) to insert after the word "occupation" the words, "whether unemployed, and, if so. how many days during the previous week."
248 I have been in consultation with my hon. Friend, and he will allow me to move my Amendment to his Amendment and will accept it. I shall therefore move the words, "if the former, how long during the previous twelve months," in the hon. Member's Amendment be struck out, and the words, "for how many days during the previous week," be inserted instead thereof.
The President of the Local Government Board, in introducing the Second Reading of the Census Bill, said, with some pride, that he had received the thanks of the Statistical Society, but he has ignored the recommendations of the Statistical Society that this question of unemployment should be included in the Census form. The Amendment I moved includes the question which the Census committee of the Statistical Society suggested. My objection to the Amendment as moved by the hon. Member (Mr. Parker) is this: Those of us who want these questions asked realise that for good or evil if these statistics are collected they are going to be a tremendous weapon for the gladiators on one side or the other of the Tariff Reform controversy, and, therefore, if we do collect these statistics it is essential we should collect them in that form which would give some security that the conclusion drawn from them will be reliable. With this in mind I confess I look with some suspicion on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Halifax, which would ask a man whether he has been out of work, and, if so, for how long, during the previous twelve months. How can a man remember how long he has been out of work during the previous twelve months? The great majority of those who are out of work consist of what is known as casual labourers—men who do not know when they get up in the morning whether they are going to get a job or not. How could a man in that position calculate the number of hours of work he had the previous year? The Amendment seems to assume that the unemployed have this information.
I think my hon. Friend cannot have followed the United States Census in which the very questions he proposes have been included ever since 1880. The result of that was that replies were so unsatisfactory that the authorities refused to tabulate them, and in the report of the Census of 1900 the authorities have tabulated them, but they warn, at the same time, all those who read them, that no 249 reliance can be placed upon any inference to be drawn from them. Perhaps I may remind hon. Members opposite that the amount of unemployment in the United States is set down at 22 per cent. of the population. With regard to the question suggested by the Statistical Society, it is very similar and almost identical with the question included in the French system. The French Census asks, "If you are out of a situation, for how long have you been out of employment." The question I wish to ask is simpler, and it is, "If you are out of employment, for how long have you been out of work during the last week?" That is a simple question, and the answer to it can be given in simple figures, and in a form which can easily be tabulated. May I say to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Parker) that if we can pursuade the President of the Local Government Board to give the information I am asking for we could deduce very easily the information he is asking for when we have ascertained the amount of unemployment during any one week. Then we could easily find out the amount of unemployment for a longer period. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I know we have no adequate knowledge of the actual amount of unemployment, but if you take the generally accepted opinion of professional statisticians they point out that we have adequate knowledge of the variations of unemployment. The point is that although we do not know the number of men out of employment in June and December, professional statisticians can always agree whether the number of men unemployed in December is doubly or trebly as great as the number unemployed in June. Evidence on this point is forthcoming from a great variety of sources. Take, for example, the Trade Union Returns, which refer to 1,700,000 men, and everyone will agree that you could not, from the evidence given as to the proportion of unemployment amongst them, deduce any valuable results about the whole 11,000,000 of working population. Nevertheless, the ups and downs of employment amongst those 1,700,000 skilled trade unionists is more or less reflected by the ups and downs amongst the unskilled men belonging to the same trades and working in the same districts. The returns of the distress committees and the statistics of pauperism are the material used in certain cases, and they give a fairly accurate idea whether unemployment is going up or down. I think if we could obtain the absolute 250 amount of unemployment for any one week in the year we could deduce from it the amount over a period. That is the point I wish to put to the hon. Member for Halifax. By this proposal the non. Member will get his information out of the question I am asking, and it will have this advantage, that my question will give information based upon a fairly sure and certain foundation giving the amount of unemployment for the past week. The information in reply to the question my hon. Friend asks depends largely upon a man's memory over a whole year, but the answer to my question will depend upon a man's memory only for the past week. There can be no harm in asking this simple question. After all the Census is not controlled by this House, but by the Registrar-General, who has an absolutely free hand, whatever questions we may introduce, to refuse to tabulate any information which he thinks is not reliable. If this question does not produce the results that my hon. Friend expects, the Registrar need not tabulate the information. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because the matter is in the Registrar-General's hands as to whether he need tabulate the information collected by the Census. I feel that a beginning must be made. We shall probably make mistakes, but we have to make a beginning, and I hope the President of the Local Government Board will allow us to make a beginning now, because we shall not have another opportunity till the year 1920.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the alteration of the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for Northampton meets with general approval, we might as well alter the Amendment and be done with it.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the words 'whether unemployed or retired, and, if the former, for how many days during the previous week' be there inserted."
Whatever opinion I may have had concerning this Amendment before the hon. Member for Northampton spoke, I am now quite convinced as to the inadequacy of this proposal, and I do not believe that his recommendation is a wise one at all. In fact, I have never heard a weaker case than the one he has made 251 out. The observations of the hon. Member prove to me that what he suggests would be a dangerous change, because he stated we should be able to deduce all sorts or things from his proposal, and he said that statisticians, Tariff Reformers, and Free Traders would have placed in their hands the most unreliable information it was possible to conceive. The Census is to be taken in April, 1911. We are now passing through a booming period. My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax proposes that you should be able to reflect back twelve months. May I point out that from April, 1910, to April, 1911, this country will be passing through one of the biggest booms in trade which it has ever known. Take the year 1914, and suppose we are discussing the problem of unemployment when our country is suffering from a serious state of slackness. Am I to understand that this table tabulated by the Registrar-General, concerning the state of unemployment in the greatest boom year, is going to be of the slightest use when tens of thousands of workpeople are starving as the result of slackness in trade? The information will be so used and you will have a wrong opinion created as the result of unreliable statistics. Then there is the difficulty of making quite sure, when we have these figures before us, what they really mean to the individual concerned. I think I have shown that they will be absolutely unreliable in the long run, and they will be quite unreliable in 1914, and will cease to be of any use from 1911 either to Tariff Reformers, Free Traders, or statisticians. If the Statistical Society expect to deduce anything reliable from such figures, I am afraid I shall doubt their authority on statistics from this time onwards. These Census papers are distributed on the Saturday and collected on the Monday. Are we to understand that Census papers filled up in a docker's house or by a casual labourer or a sempstress who will probably fill them up without realising what the answers are intended to convey—are answers given like that to be tabulated, and are we actually to base social legislation in this House on information obtained from individuals under such circumstances? I suggest that for these reasons the information will be absolutely unreliable and useless six months after they are tabulated, and it will be dangerous to use them. I hope my hon. Friend will not 252 attempt to push any further his demand for figures which will be absolutely unreliable.
Sir HOWELL DAVIES
I am sure we should all be glad to obtain reliable information on this Question, but the arguments in favour of this Amendment have not convinced me that the information asked for would be of any real value. If you take the ordinary casual labourers, such as dock labourers, they may have been unemployed for weeks, and they may have had good employment for a considerable time. They may have been employed one week and out of employment again the following week. We might have a large number of persons in some particular districts out of employment by reason of a short shut down. There would be nothing in the Census papers that would suggest that many of these persons would perhaps the following week go back to employment. I should be very glad indeed if the President of the Local Government Board could devise some form of question that would give us some fairly accurate idea as to unemployment, but I am quite sure that any suggestion such as either of those contained in the Amendments would be entirely misleading and absolutely worthless.
§ Mr. REES
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will let this matter severely alone. There was something in the suggestion of the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. James Parker), but he withdrew in favour of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Lees Smith), which really hardly required the criticisms which had been passed upon it. I have had some experience of Indian Census Returns. 1 remember complaining to one of the enumerators that there was a mistake in his figures, and he said:—Surely your honour may add noughts at discretion.I am bound to say I think that enumerator and the hon. Member for Northampton might very well work in couples. The suggestion that because a man stated he was out of work a certain number of days in the week you might deduce from that fact that he probably would be out of work a certain number of months in the year is one of the most extraordinary arguments ever advanced for the consideration of a serious Assembly. The hon. Member then suggested that on this doubtful quantity you should proceed to erect some glorious structure of statistics for the purpose of bowling over Protection or Free Trade or 253 some other economic system. Having seen something of the filling up of these columns of statistics, I would urge the right hon. Gentleman not to add any columns at all. The object of the Census is to ascertain certain general economic facts regarding the people, and the more columns that are added the more you intrude into the individual affairs of people. That is a most regrettable circumstance. There is rather a tendency to extract from people information upon which action is to be taken in their names. I think that is perfectly unjustifiable. The hon. Member for Halifax entirely ignored the fact that the trade unions are only a fraction of the population, a fact that vitiates all comparisons made between unemployment here and in other countries; but to adopt the lion. Member's suggestion would only make confusion more confounded, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will equally ignore the hon. Member for Halifax and the hon. Member for Northampton, and stick to his own form without any additional columns whatever.
§ Mr. WALSH
The remarks of the last speaker have more than ever convinced me of the necessity of this Amendment. He stated that the returns furnished by the trade unions apply only to a fraction of the population. That is perfectly true, and now because we ask for returns to be supplied for the whole population that is equally wrong. It is because we admit that both the conclusions drawn from the returns furnished by the trade unions and the method of furnishing them are wrong, and because we are desirous of getting more accurate data, that this Amendment has been put down. We are labouring under a difficulty, I admit, in the fact that the Amendment only asks for the returns to be based on one week. We must at once admit that a week is not sufficiently comprehensive. Our present data are not only insufficient, but they are egregiously wrong. Must, therefore, no attempt be made to supply better data at all? It is said false conclusions will be drawn by Tariff Reformers, but I do not see why we should introduce this matter, like King Charles' head, every time unemployment is discussed.
Unemployment is a deadly fact, and this House and the country ought to set themselves to find out what are the real facts in connection with that great problem, and I think the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Lees Smith) was per- 254 fectly justified in saying that a beginning ought to be made. After all, April is probably the most stable month for employment. You have not quite left the impetus given by the winter months, and you have not entered upon the depression caused in most trades by the advent of summer. You are really in the most stable month of the year for employment. I lay that down as a general proposition; it does not, of course, hold good in all cases, but it does hold good for the greater number of the working people of the country, and, if we could get returns based upon the first week in April, I believe they would be of great value to sociologists and statisticians. I think there ought to be an attempt made. There is no question as to the cost. We are not seeking a mere multiplication of columns; we are seeking greater information with regard to the most deadly fact in our social condition today, and surely this House ought not to treat it as a matter between parties and Tariff Reformers and Free Traders. Free Traders have nothing to fear from the publication of the truth, and I think the actual condition of trade in the first week of April would give far more reliable data than we have at present. Take the case of the miners. The Trade Union Returns of unemployment which appear monthly do not include more than one-third of the miners, and the whole question as to trades disputes is left out. They simply refer to ordinary unemployment. A false impression is thus created. If the Returns were based upon the condition of the whole of the people of the country, we should get more accurate information, and I certainly think the Amendment is entitled to more courteous treatment than it seems to be accorded.
§ Mr. BURNS
The Local Government Board, the Board of Trade, and the Registrars-General of Scotland and of England and Wales have, as was their duty, given very serious attention to the Amendment, and everything that it implies. We are going to ask the House not to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. James Parker), and, after the discussion that has taken place, I must ask the House not to accept the last Amendment, because from many points of view it is less reliable than the lengthier period put forward by the hon. Member for Halifax. It seems to me we had better deal with this, not from the point of view of either Free Trade or Tariff Reform, but from the point of view of 255 taking an enumeration of the people of this country, with a number of salient and essential facts based upon past experience for giving a correct numbering of the people. Nothing induces me to emphasise that fact more than the speech made by the hon. Member for the Ince Division of Lancashire (Mr. Walsh). He said April, in his judgment, was the most stable month of the year. I have taken the trouble in a Blue Book issued by the Local Government Board a year ago, and called "Public Health and Social Conditions," to gather together a number of facts relating to pauperism and to unemployment as registered in the Returns from Labour Bureaux and distress committees, and if the hon. Member for the Ince Division will look at the book it will prove to him that instead of April, which for many reasons we have determined to fix for the numbering of the people, being the most stable month, it is the least reliable from all points of view. That is not only true of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, but I have taken the trouble to look at the chart with regard to England and Wales, Scotland, the United States, and other countries, and in all the countries to which we are asked to go for examples, April is one of the very worst months of the year for pauperism, which, after all, fairly accurately reflects the distress arising from unemployment. You will find, looking at the table, that, whereas on 28th or 29th March or 1st April the curve is represented by twenty-four per 1,000, in July it is represented by twenty-two. That means that midsummer day in England and Wales, Scotland, certainly in the United States and in Canada, is probably the best day on which you could get a fair measure of the unemployment that prevails. I agree with the hon. Member that unemployment is a deadly fact, but that fact ought to be ascertained by methods that are deadly true. I know no more unreliable method than that suggested by the hon. Member for Halifax, unless it be the remedy suggested by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Lees Smith).
I say that because we have one or two precedents to guide us. I find that France and Germany, countries which have been quoted as examples of the argument, point the other way, because we find that the German and French Censuses, which were intended to ascertain the number 256 of out-of-works on Census day, showed a remarkable divergence in the results. For instance, in Berlin the percentage of unemployment on the general Census return was 13 per cent. in excess of that represented on the more exact special unemployed Census. In Hamburg there was a difference of 15 per cent.; and in Stuttgart, a small place, where one might have expected more reliable information, the difference between the general Census and the special Census was 31 per cent. Looking at the table of unemployment in the "Labour Gazette," looking at the Metropolitan Pauperism Chart, and at the New York Labour Bureau returns, I must say the more I see of this subject the more I am convinced that this proposal would not secure us reliable figures. On the contrary, I think they would be most unreliable, and they could be used neither in support of Free Trade arguments nor in favour of Tariff Reform.
I come to the other objections to the Amendments which have been put down. In my opinion the Census should be limited to simple and direct questions and answers. May I put this point to the hon. Members for the Ince Division and for one of the Divisions of Glasgow? The out-of-work returns have different meanings. Suppose a docker or a stevedore were called on to answer the question. A docker will sometimes work sixty, seventy, or eighty hours in three and a half days, and then, following on that exceptional labour, he will very properly rest for two or three days. Suppose the Census paper were delivered to him on the second day of his rest. Is he to be put down as an out-of-work? Take, again, the case of the lighterman. He may have had ten or twelve months' fairly regular work, but he may be temporarily unemployed by reason of a fog in the river or of an accident to some vessel at the entrance to the river. If during the brief period of unemployment the Census return is asked for is he to be put down as one of the unemployed? If we are to have these returns of the out-of-works, ought we not also to have a return of the reason for the unemployment?, especially when it is due not to the lack of employment or to the action of the employer, but to what the sea lawyer would call "an act of God." The facts should be known before the country is asked to form an opinion.
In America, where this thing has been attempted, it has proved a failure from every point of view, because at the time 257 when 22 per cent. of the people in America were registered as unemployed, in 1900, at that very same moment certain newspapers in this country were telling us that there were hardly any unemployed in America at all. It is, therefore, pretty obvious that information obtained in this way in a general Census paper would be hardly worth the trouble of securing. The facts would not be worth having. In fact, in 1886, in London when there was exceptional distress, a special census was taken by trained enumerators in four typical districts in the Metropolis, and, notwithstanding that the enumerators were skilled, statisticians quarrelled with the character and accuracy of the statistics they supplied. When we realise that in this country the statistics with regard to the Census are filled in by the heads of families and occupiers, and not by skilled enumerators, we shall see how unreliable it would be to accept the Amendments before the House. I ask the House to believe that a Census of unemployment taken under the circumstances suggested in the Amendment would not be worth having; it would be costly, and it would do more harm than good.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (l), paragraph (a), after the words "profession or occupation," to insert the words "religious profession."
I venture to impress upon the Committee very strongly that there is no reason whatever why this information should not be obtained. I have taken the words of my Amendment from the Irish Census Act, which has been in existence for many years, and from the Irish Census Bill, which we shall be asked to pass very shortly after the proceedings on this Bill have been concluded. There is no sort of reason why the practice in regard to this matter in different parts of the United Kingdom should not be assimilated. The question is easily and satisfactorily answered in Ireland, and it should be answered with equal ease and satisfaction in England, Wales, and Scotland. In Ireland there has not been the slightest difficulty in getting this information. The bulk of the population fill in the column, and the fact that a very small section fail to do so has not caused any difficulty whatsoever. We have been frequently told in this House that in the Colonies a similar column to the one I am suggesting should be inserted in the Census paper has always 258 been filled up cheerfully. Why should that not apply equally to England, Wales, and Scotland. The information will certainly be very interesting. It would be of interest to know, for instance, to what extent Roman Catholicism has grown in England, in the same way as we can ascertain it in Ireland. It would be also exceedingly useful to have such information in connection with the proposals which we may be called upon to discuss for the Disestablishment of the Church of England and Wales. It would be highly desirable in connection with the Debates on the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church, to have some figures, approximately accurate, as to the number of members of the Church of England in Wales, and it would be equally interesting to know the number of members of various Nonconformist bodies throughout England. I honestly tell the Committee I cannot understand what is the exact objection to this proposal. I do not think the Roman Catholics would object to it; at any rate, they do not appear to do so in Ireland, where the information is freely given. I do not think that the members of the Church of England would have the slightest objection to stating their religious profession, whilst people who have no religious profession at all would surely have no difficulty in mentioning that fact. I may say I am perfectly prepared, at a later stage, to move an Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for the Denbigh Borough, to the effect that there shall be no penalty attaching to the refusal to give this information or to the failure to fill up that particular form. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] I do not see the reason for that laugh. I should have thought such an Amendment would be perfectly fair. It ought not to be an offence for people to refuse to give the information. I have always protested against the creation of so many criminal offences. I am afraid that hon. Gentlemen opposite during the last Parliament created more criminal offences than were formerly to be found on the Statute Book. At all events, I am perfectly prepared, when the proper time arrives, to move this Amendment. I believe that this information should not be demanded under threat or a penalty of criminal punishment. This information would be exceedingly useful, and I therefore venture to press most strongly upon the Committee the desirability of supporting this very reasonable Amendment.
§ Mr. WILLIAM JONES
This question has been brought before the House on many occasions during the last forty or fifty years, and on each occasion the proposal has been rejected. With regard to the question of the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, I think that we in this House have already strong arguments in its favour, because, since 1868, there has been an overwhelming majority of the Welsh representatives in favour of Disestablishment. I object to this proposal as a Liberal and as a Nonconformist. I believe that the State has no right to ask such a question, and there are hosts of people in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland who conscientiously believe that the Government has no right to ask them to make any declaration of religious belief. In consequence many would be forced to withhold the information, and the result would be a very serious defect in the statistics. The returns, in fact, would be worthless. Again, a great number of people hold an undefined position with regard to religion, and that would make it difficult for them to render a return. It must also be remembered that a return might be furnished by occupiers on behalf of others which would be in many cases utterly worthless, and we know very well, both in Wales and in England, from recent statistics, that persons of indefinite church connections generally return themselves —I will not say what their motive is, but no doubt some of them want to appear very respectable and genteel—they generally return themselves as members of the Church of England. That is so, and it will appear to be the case if hon. Members opposite will listen to the statistics which I can give them, though I do not think they will like them. Take the returns made in the registers of prisons in England and Wales on 28th March, 1906, and in the prisons of Great Britain. At that period there were eleven criminals who called themselves Salvationists, fifty-three Congregationalists, 132 Baptists, 496 Methodists, 1,503 Presbyterians, 5,378 Roman Catholics, and 16,233 Anglicans. How do my hon. Friends like that 1 Let me take the specific figures that I have with regard to Wales. It appears that there are 106 Roman Catholic criminals in the prisons in Wales, eighty-seven Nonconformists, and 369 Anglicans.
Whatever may be the value of statistics with regard to Wales in reference to Nonconformity on the one side and Church of England on the other, there is not a single 260 bishop or any churchman in Wales who will dare assert that the Nonconformists are not in a majority. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] No, not one; but it appears from that interruption that there is one hon. Gentleman who says that the Church of England in Wales is in a majority. He is the only one I have heard say that, and no bishop or Episcopalian will ever assert that it is so, and if the hon. Member reads the evidence given before the Church Commission he will, I think, alter his views. Say that the Church of England number a quarter of the population, or that they are even one-third, it is certain that they are in a minority, and is it fair to say that 369 Anglicans are criminals, as against eighty-seven Nonconformists, or that the criminals are as four to one in Wales as between the Church and Nonconformity. That is not fair, I think, to either persuasion. I do not think I need reiterate the arguments I have previously used. I took part in this Debate ten years ago, and I remember very well the party opposite were in power, and I remember the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) moved for a similar return, and he was opposed by his own leaders, and the Amendment was negatived without any Division. He did not go into the Lobby in favour of it, and for the last thirty years, whether Conservative or Liberal Governments have been in power, a similar Amendment to this has been defeated, in some instances, by an overwhelming majority. There is no reason for this proposal, and whenever, under Lord Palmerston, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Salisbury, it has been brought before the House, the Government invariably went against making this invidious distinction because they acted upon the bedrock principle that the State has no right to stigmatise any man or to put a man in a false position. There may be plenty of people who have the right to say they are Anglicans or Nonconformists, but there are thousands, if not millions, of indifferentists, and they do not want to be put on one side or the other, or in either category. We are, therefore, put in this invidious position that, whatever you do, you will not get a Census worth returning and, therefore, I am opposed to this proposal.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I do not wish to detain the House long upon this occasion, as I spoke upon this question on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I do not want to recapitulate in any detail the 261 arguments which I used then in favour of introducing a religious Census, not merely in Wales, but in Great Britain. I deplore the fact that this should be looked upon as a Welsh question, and in regard to that aspect of the matter we shall, I hope, shortly be satisfied with reliable figures furnished by the Welsh Church Commission; and I deplore the fact that that Commission has been so long in producing its Report. I wish to say in regard to the general question and the general proposition that it is of immense importance for anybody who wishes to make a thoroughly scientific study of a modern community that he should have some religious Census of that community. I think that has been recognised in many countries, both in Europe and America and in countries where there has been no Inquisition. In the Debate upon the Second Beading an hon. Member said that the reason apparently why it was right to have a religious Census in Ireland but it was wrong to have one in England and Wales was because there had been an Inquisition in Ireland and no Inquisition in Great Britain; but I lay my case in the same way exactly as the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He has laid it on the general case that it is wrong for the State to inquire into a man's religion. That is his case. I personally do not see why it is wrong for the State to ask him that. Why, if it is not wrong to ask him his age and other particulars, is it wrong to ask him his religious profession? I fail to understand why, especially if we insert the clause which is included in the Irish Act making it voluntary and subjecting a person to no penalties if he refuses to make this return? Why should that be called tyranny?
In answer to those hon. Members who say that a large number of people would avail themselves of that section and not make any return at all, let me point out what has happened in Ireland. In that country you have over 98 per cent. of the population invariably each time the Census comes round making a return, and I would be the last to say that either in England or Wales there are more people indifferent to religion than there are in Ireland. I consider that the line taken up with regard to England and Wales that there are a number of in differents is not well founded, because you will find no part of these dominions where religion has a greater hold upon the population and where the people are more religious than 262 in the Principality of Wales. An hon. Member, in answer to a speech I made on this point on the Second Reading Debate, said that in the church near him five, six or seven people went to the church and it was nearly empty, but when the official Census was made it was crowded. I should like him to go to North Wales, and especially to Wrexham. Let him go to the parish church at Wrexham on a Sunday, and unless he goes twenty minutes before the service begins he will not get in, for he will find the place crammed. They are building three new churches there now, and yet hon. Members are always holding up the Church in Wales as if it was a dwindling minority, and as if the Censuses which they produce were the right ones. Hon. Members very often produce statistics from which we suffer, and that causes me, as a Welshman, to ask for an official Return. One hon. Member gave as an example in his speech the diocese of St. Asaph, where he said the church was in an absurd minority, and that it only provided seating accommodation for 20 per cent. of the population. I want to know where he got his figures from? Were they drawn from the Congregational Year Book or from a work which differs very largely from that, the Free Church Year Book? But these are not church figures or accurate figures. We say that the seating accommodation is very much over 20 per cent. of the population.
How far, however, does that argument as to seating accommodation as between different denominations carry you—how far is it a sufficient basis to argue upon? The seating accommodation is nothing, and in regard to that I might point out that in this House there is not seating accommodation for all the Members. Is it expected that in Wales every child over the age of three is to go to church at the same time? We say we make ample accommodation for those who wish to attend, but this is rather going away from the question we have before us, though I am merely producing these facts in answer to the wild, reckless and loose statistical information that we have from unofficial sources. Therefore, I ask the Government to give us an official Census not merely for Wales, but for the whole country. This is wanted not merely for religious and controversial purposes, but for academic and sociological purposes as well. I also say it is wanted for controversial purposes apart 263 from the disestablishment and disestablishment of the Church. There is the entire question of education in regard to which it is of the utmost importance that we should have this information. At the last election the candidate who opposed me said he was in favour of a special clause for Roman Catholics; but why are they selected out for special treatment, and why should not the same sort of treatment be extended to the Church of England? I think it is of the utmost importance that we should have some Census to show whether those denominations who are in favour of undenominational education are in excess, as regards numbers, of those of the Church of England, Roman Catholics, Jews, and others who are in favour of denominational education. There are a great many questions of that sort in regard to which information of this kind would be useful, but I do not want to weary the Committee. I would finally express a hope, however, that the era of unofficial statistics with regard to religious profession, not merely in Wales but in England, will be ended, and that we shall have the addition of this column in the Census of Great Britain as it is in Ireland and as it is in most other countries. I therefore hope the Government will consent to have a census of the religious denominations throughout the country.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Herbert Lewis)
The Government, following the precedents that were set in the years 1890 and 1900 by Unionist Governments, have decided not to accept an Amendment of the character which has been proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite. He commenced his speech by asking why the provisions of the Census Bill for Ireland were not adopted with regard to this particular Bill. The circumstances of Ireland in regard to the Census, as in regard to a good many other matters, differ very widely and very materially from those of England, and I think it is desirable that this House should recognise those differences. Everybody in Ireland has a religion—everybody in Ireland at any rate professes a religion — and the line of demarcation between the different sects in Ireland is very clearly and very sharply marked. In Ireland a man is either a Roman Catholic or a Protestant. But looking at the matter from the point of view of the number of sects in this country, can we pre- 264 tend for the moment that the divisions here are so few or so simple as they are in Ireland? We know perfectly well that the sects run into hundreds in this country. If statistics for this purpose are obtained through the medium of the Census it will be necessary to tabulate every one of those sects and the trouble and expense of doing it would be enormous. We could not refuse to tabulate even the very smallest of them. The difficulty in the way of the Registrar-General would be very largely increased if we were to adopt the religious Census.
But there is another reason why we should decline to accept the Amendment. We have been hoping to pass this Bill as a practically non-controversial measure, but from the nature of the speeches which have already been made we can easily gather that if the Amendment were accepted the Bill would become one of a most fiercely controversial nature, and not only so, but the administration of the Bill hereafter would give an enormous amount of trouble to the Census authorities, and we should find that sectarian contention would by no means end with the proceedings in this House. The object of the Government in matters of this kind is to obtain accurate information. If the Amendment were accepted the information would be inaccurate and misleading, and in that I am supported by the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil). Ten years ago he moved an Amendment of this kind in the very best possible spirit and in a speech of great moderation, but he made this confession as to the object of the Amendment and as to the accuracy of a religious Census. He said:—A religious Census was not asked for for the purpose-of estimating the religious force of the various denominations in the country. Such statistics would necessarily be inaccurate and misleading. The Census was desired for the specific purpose of meeting the numerical argument against Disestablishment.It is not the object of the Local Government Board to obtain inaccurate and misleading information. We want the information that we obtain to be of an accurate and reliable character, and we believe that those who wish to obtain information as to the strength of the various denominations in this country can obtain it through such means as the Welsh Church Commission and from the various churches of the country. I am glad to believe that their statistical methods are constantly improving, and that we shall be able to-obtain very much better information in that way than we could if we had to obtain 265 it by means of a religious Census. The Census Committee of 1890 took specific evidence upon this point from the Church Defence Society. They had every opportunity of hearing the case, but they came to the conclusion that they could make no recommendation whatever as to the adoption of a religious Census. That is the judgment of an impartial Committee. I hope the Committee will bear another consideration in mind. Every column that we add to the Schedule will add to the difficulty of carrying out the Census. That is one of the differences between England and Ireland. In Ireland the enumerator does the work of filling up the Schedules. In this country it is the householder who does the work. No fewer than 7,000,000 Schedules have to be filled up by 7,000,000 different persons. The Committee will see at once the unwisdom and the inexpediency of adding a single unnecessary column to the Schedule. I trust the Committee will treat this Bill as far as possible as non-controversial, and will refrain from introducing this element of acute controversy. I believe they will act wisely and well by rejecting the Amendment.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The hon. Member who has just sat down referred to the precedents of previous Governments. I think 'he used one argument which appeals to every Government, and which no doubt was the reason why the Unionist Government did not adopt a previous Schedule of this kind—the argument, I mean, that it would make the Bill of a controversial character. That is an argument which it is very natural that the Government should pay attention to, but it cannot weigh against the considerations which have already been brought forward by my hon. Friends. The statistical discussion on the relative strength of Church and Nonconformity in. this country has now been going on for a great number of years. In respect of Wales it has lately received new life, and will in future receive increased stimulus by the proceeding and by the Report of the Church Commission. It is impossible to go on for ever with amateur statistics in this fashion. The hon. Member talks as though we could get rid of the statistical argument altogether. If we could there would be much to be said for doing so, but we cannot. He deprecates misleading statistics, but the really misleading statistics are with us now. We have abundance of statistics, all more or less unsound. I do not say they are dis- 266 honestly put forward, but they are put forward by people who have not the means, and certainly have not the organisation, to make a complete statistical estimate for the religious professions either of Wales or the whole of Great Britain. Accordingly our minds are constantly perplexed by conflicting statements, by different statistical calculations, the results of which lead to quite different conclusions. The hon. Member (Mr. W. Jones) said, "No one would say the Church of England was in a majority in Wales." I do not think any prudent person would say that any particular denomination had any particular proportion of the Welsh people. The estimates are conflicting, and the evidence which points this way and that is exceedingly difficult to understand and to tabulate. Why not have this additional piece of light on the problem?
He quotes me as saying that a statistical estimate made by the Census would be no guide to the true religious force of the different religious bodies. Of course it would not be. We are not suggesting a rehearsal of the Day of Judgment but a religious Census. No one can tell what n the true religious and spiritual force of a body even by processes much more complicated than the counting of heads. What we want to know is what people call themselves. We do not pretend to search the secrets of human hearts. We say simply, here is a great controversy in the first place, and also subordinate discussions of a less controversial character, about what is the true proportion of the citizens of this country who say that they are adherents of the Church of England, the Methodist body, and the like. Why not use the organisation of the State to ask the simple question, "What do you belong to?" I quite agree that if people have conscientious objections they should be respected, and that is contemplated. My hon. Friends have Amendments which would save the conscientious objector. He would make no return, and would suffer nothing. But the great majority of the population would return their convictions. Then the hon. Member (Mr. W. Jones) says, "We know what happens in prisons—the vast majority of the people return themselves as Members of the Church of England. Do you really say that all these people in prison thoroughly and conscientiously adhere to the Church of England and so return themselves, and would there not be a similar body of population outside who would be Atheists, and 267 would put down their names as Church of England, wanting a better title?" In the first place the difficulty would not be so great out of the prison as it would inside. Ix, is reasonable to suppose that the standard of religious conviction is lower in prison than it is out of it. But for controversial purposes it is not an answer at all. Supposing we were going to settle what was to be the service in the chapel of the prison, we should certainly be entitled to say "If 16,000 people in the prisons are Anglicans, and a much smaller proportion Atheists they might not be very good Anglicans, but they are at any rate entitled to choose one religion rather than another like anybody else, and we will have the chapel services accordingly."
If a person has a preference in favour of a particular form of belief, however unreal it may be, it counts for something when you are counting one man against another for the purpose of seeing which is the religion most acceptable to the majority of the population, and the worthless man is as much entitled to his opinion as anyone else. The burglar is as much entitled to have his Anglican collects as the murderer is to have his extempore prayer. When you are counting one man against another it really matters what they prefer. I quite agree that it is not a conclusive argument on the question of the Establishment, but it is useful when we want to know how many people adhere to one religion and how many to another. Ask them. They may have only a slight preference, but at any rate it is good enough for this purpose, and it is reasonable to say that if all these people put themselves down as Church of England we do not want to upset the ancient relations of the Church and State. They are at any rate not keen Liberationists. If it be true that there is a great body of population— I do not know whether it is true or not— which, not caring particularly, nevertheless would put themselves down Church of England rather than Methodist or Congregationalist, that is a perfectly sound, and, in its way, a valuable argument in favour of maintaining the established relation between Church and State. These people are citizens—they have the rights of citizens—you do not propose that anyone who has not a high standard of religious life should be disfranchised; they are entitled to choose. Their opinion is as good as that of anyone else. It is as 268 good as the most saintly man's for the purpose of choosing which religion he wishes to be recognised by the State. I think that argument misses the point.
Then, finally, we have what is the great difficulty in the hon. Member's way in resisting the Amendment—the example of Ireland. Here you have a religious Census actually in being. All this talk about conscientious belief is laid aside. The inquisitorial question is asked. Why it it asked? What is the history of it? The question was asked in Ireland because it helped forward the cause of Disestablishment. You refuse to ask it in England because you know it would throw back the cause of Disestablishment. It is only another illustration of the essential illiberality of Liberalism. The ordinary Radical Member of Parliament has no sincere devotion to any body of principles whatever. He rejects principles if it suits the controversial purpose of the moment. It suited the advocates of Disestablishment to have a religious Census in Ireland, and so they had it. It suits them to resist it in England and Wales, and so they resist it. It is sheer party self-will—precisely the same thing as we had in the constitutional controversy. The Radical party wants to have its own way whatever principles help it to have its own way. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did not the Conservative Government do it?"] Because the Government could not spare the time to carry it through. This Session is unusually favourable for carrying it. There is really no argument against this proposal. We say, and we are entitled to say, that the advocates of Disestablishment shrink from the test of a religious Census. Let us have an end of imitation statistics and amateur guesses as to who is strong and who is weak in Wales and in England. We propose to go to the country for the information, and you are afraid of it. That is the plain statement of the case. You dare not face the enumeration which we desire. I put this question to any impartial person: What would be the impression on a jury's mind of one who would not go into the witness-box? I say, and we are entitled to say, that, so far as the statistical argument goes, we may claim judgment by default, and we have a right-to appeal to the unquestionable truth that those who will not face an enumeration are probably conscious of being in a minority.
§ Mr. VERNEY
I desire to say a few words strongly against the contention which the Noble Lord has put forward. 269 In the first place, I think he will not deny that if you take one denomination alone the most important from many points of view is the Church of England. Any member of the Church of England knows perfectly well that it has an entirely different meaning to different people. You have the churchman, who says that he is a a Church of England man, though he may mean something very different from his neighbour, who also claims to be a Church of England man. The whole standpoint may be entirely different as regards political matters. There are a vast number in the Church of England who would go in for Disestablishment, and who are thoroughly loyal to the Church of England. What, then, becomes of the Noble Lord's argument that the people of the Church of England want to retain the political connection? That is absolutely unfounded. He cannot get up and say that all loyal members of the Church of England are in favour of the Establishment. I think many of his own friends would strongly argued against that, and would stand up and say I that you may be a thoroughly loyal member of the Church of England, and yet go in strongly for the liberation policy. Those of us who know many of the clergy of the Church of England know how very difficult the education question becomes the moment you test it by that. There are many parents who would prefer that their children should attend certain dissenting schools rather than schools taught by teachers belonging to the Church of England. By degrees we hope that these lines of demarcation are being obliterated for all denominations. Many of us strongly protest against emphasising these marks and lines of division by any religious Census. Another matter was referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson). He proposes to put in the words "religious profession." He ought to insert "religious denomination." What is "religious profession"'? It is the true faith of the Christian. What would the value of that be, according to the hon. and;learned Member's amendment? Why, it would mean nothing.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The reason I selected these words was that they occur in the Government's Census Bill for Ireland.
§ Mr. VERNEY
I quite understood that was so; but, as was well said by the hon. Member who spoke for the Government on this subject, that might do well enough in 270 Ireland, though it would be of very little use in England, because the number of sects in England is largely greater than the number of sects and great divisions which occur in Ireland. I consider that the words "religious profession" embrace all forms of the Christian faith, but that would not satisfy the hon. and learned Member a bit. On the contrary, his whole speech was devoted to a defence of getting information regarding not the religious profession, but the religious denomination of the people. That I strongly object to, and I think many not only on this side, but also on the other side of the House do not want to have a religious Census in that sense put forward as an inquisition by the Government. There is another reason for objecting to this Amendment. There are a vast number of people—certainly in Wales, and I know even in England—who belong to more than one religious denomination in this sense—they very often go to chapel in the morning and to church in the evening, and some of these are among the most religious part of the whole population. I am sure my hon. and learned Friend will admit that these people are extremely religious, and yet if you ask, "Are you Churchmen or Nonconformists?" they would have very great difficulty in answering the question. I know places where people attend the Church of England and yet constantly attend Dissenting places of worship. I know people who have taken part in the choir in the Church of England in the morning and in the choir of the chapel in the afternoon. I believe that the statistics which would be obtained in the way proposed would be very inaccurate. I cannot help thinking that from many points of view what is called a religious Census would give results which would be very misleading, inaccurate, and utterly useless for the purpose for which they are desired on the other side.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
In the course of the Debate hon. Members opposite have shown a certain amount of sectarian feeling. It is to my mind a very lamentable thing, for I desire to get rid of religious controversy. In our Colonies and in all other countries a religious census can be got, and yet when it is proposed to take a religious Census in England the spirit of sectarian controversy seems to arise at once. I deprecate that in every possible way. I think the sectarian spirit is far too rife. It is a great mistake to have a contest between denominations arising out 271 of the jealousy of one towards another. All Christian-minded people ought to rejoice in every expression and variety of religious opinion in England or elsewhere. If you approach the question from that point of view what possible harm is there really in a Census of this kind? I will come by-and-by to the practical difficulties, but I would ask here if it is possible to have a religious Census in all other countries, why it is said that it will stigmatise the people of England if they put down in the Census returns the religious profession to which they belong? I think every man should be proud of his religious profession. It is not a subject of debate. It is not a subject which you should keep in the background, and there ought to be no sectarian feeling in a business proposition of this kind. I think it is a mistake in considering this subject to discuss the possible uses to which the information may be applied. If you start from that point of view and say that some controversialists may use the information in an inapplicable manner there ought not to be a Census at all.
The issue is an entirely different one. Is this a sort of information which can be appropriately demanded, and which ought to be obtained in order to ascertain properly the religious profession of the people of England at the present time? I think the answer to that is undoubtedly in the affirmative. It is just as important in England as in all other countries that we should know what the religious profession of the people is. The hon. Member for Carmarthen made a suggestion recently, and it has been repeated more than once to-day, that the statistics would be naccurate, because you would get a larger number returned as belonging to the Anglican Church than in truth there is. I do not believe you would obtain a result of that kind. The hon. Member the other day took an entirely wrong view of what constitutes a member of the Established Church. He seemed to think that anybody, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, or Romanist, was a member of the Established Anglican Church. That is not so at all. What is true is this: If you have an Established Church all citizens have certain rights as regards that Church, and particularly the parishioners in a parish. But it is absolutely a misuse of language and a misunderstanding to say that because you have an Established Church all citizens should justly call themselves members of that Church at the present time. 272 I wonder the hon. Member made a mistake of that kind, because it shows he does not appreciate what constitutes a member of the Anglican or Established Church, and does not appreciate what is wanted by our demand for a Census of the religious profession of the people.
One other word before I come to the question of the difficulty of reliability. I wish in a certain way to dissociate myself from what the Noble Lord said as regards the use which information of this kind might be put to, because that is another point altogether. We want the information, and it ought to be obtained, it is information which is obtained in all other civilised countries, I believe, except our own, and it is the greatest satire on our country for hon. Members opposite to say that the sectarian spirit here is so rife that we cannot ask for information of this kind without asking for information of an inquisitorial character. I should hope myself, if this information were given, the ordinary sectarian spirit might be extremely modified. Why should not information of this kind be given, and when it is given, why should not Anglicans respect Presbyterians, Baptists, or Congregationalists, as the case might be? The more information we have the more we get to understand the position we take up in regard to this religious question. I believe the greater the progress of tolerance the greater the absence of this unfortunate sectarian spirit; and I hope that we may co-operate, not in the way of religious antagonism, but in promoting from our different points of view the true religious spirit throughout the whole country.
On the other point that has been referred to what are the unusual difficulties? There are no more difficulties as regards the columns dealing with religious professions than as regards the columns dealing with any other information given in the Census. There is no particular difficulty in tabulation. I am referring now to what was said by the hon. Member the Under-Secretary for the Local Government Board. Even if there was a difficulty in tabulation, what has that really to do with the Census if you were asking for information which in the opinion of this House ought to be obtained? It is a minor point altogether. The difficulty of tabulation is one of those minor difficulties of administration which really have no importance, if information 273 of this kind is to be obtained in the interests of our general statistical equipment. There is one other question as regards reliability. Why should there be any more unreliability in statistics in reference to religious profession than in statistics of any other kind? I have yet to learn that the ordinary Englishman— I know him more intimately perhaps, than the ordinary Welshman—has any fear in stating what his religious profession is, and I have yet to learn that each man, as regards his own sect or denomination, has not a proper pride in that sect or denomination whether it happens to be Anglican, Romanist or Nonconformist; and when it is said that a man is stigmatised because you are asking him to state what his religious profession is, what more unfortunate word could be used? Are you stigmatising because you call him a Nonconformist or a Baptist? You apply to him for information which in my opinion it ought to be a matter of pride for him to give, showing that he is a religious man attached to a religious denomination. I hope that whatever is the fate of this Amendment, at least the House will appreciate that from the Anglican point of view we look on it as a matter of pride, and not as a stigma, that if a man calls himself either an Anglican or a Nonconformist, he will admit it. From my point of view, in the present day when irreligion is rife, any man who gets up and states without hesitation the denomination or religious profession to which he belongs, commands the admiration of all men who desire that in the aggregate we may continue a religious and God-fearing people.
§ Mr. BURNS
My hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down made one observation to which for the moment I should like to reply. He regarded it as a reproach to English people that there was not a special column to find out the religious profession or religious denomination of people in the Schedule of the Census. I take an entirely different view from that. I think it is a compliment to the good sense and religious toleration of the English people that they have not asked for this, and I think we may judge from the Division that is likely to take place that they will not insist upon a special column for the religious profession of the persons enumerated in the Census. Another argument is that advanced by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University. I had not intended to say a word 274 upon this subject, because I have sought refuge, and I might almost say sanctuary, in the speech made by the Noble Lord ten years ago on this particular point when with a frankness which did him credit he said more candidly than he did to-day that he did not want this so much for the purpose of finding out either the religious faith or the religious denomination of the people, but that he wanted it with the object of meeting a certain argument, namely, the numerical argument, against the Establishment. That is our case. Apart from the sectarian and denominational, and from the Noble Lord's point of view, there has not been much argument advanced in support of this Amendment. Though the Noble Lord went further and said the statistics of the Church, or of Nonconformity, demanded what he would term official professional statistics, yet he has not given either professional or official statistics in the sense that he understands both in contra-distinction to what he described as the mere amateur statistics that are now supplied. What he is proposing is that the occupier of every household should put down for the moment what he conceives to be, or in many cases sincerely believes to be, his religious profession or denomination; but this is determined not as the Noble Lord admits by what the person who fills up the paper feels, but by what he calls himself. But that is one of the most difficult questions which sentiment, passion and deep-seated emotion very often really influence a man to decide.
Then I put another question to the Noble Lord. We have an enormous number of people in this country who pass through prisons and reformatories, and other institutions, such as workhouses, asylums, and schools of all kinds, where the determination for the purpose of enumeration rests not with the individuals as with the institution. It cannot possibly rest with them, but rests with the head of the institution who is called upon to answer fifteen or sixteen purely secular questions on which he has no incentive whatever to give any but the exact facts from the point of view of the statistics. The Noble Lord dealt with the question of the prisons. May I ask him to bear in mind the mere number of persons involved. I was surprised the other day in looking up the judicial statistics for the United Kingdom to find this extraordinary fact that we are a most litigious 275 race. The hon. and learned Member who has just spoken (Sir A. Cripps) I am sure will confirm me as to the figures. Over a million people were last year engaged on the civil side of law. On the purely criminal side there were nearly the same number. That is, there were nearly a million persons who were summoned, prosecuted, fined or imprisoned. Let us put aside the civil statistics altogether, and deal with the million who come within the purview o£ the criminal statistics, and see how a religious denomination is determined by the four or five hundred thousand who go for a long or short period into our reformatories or criminal institutions. The Noble Lord has not been to prison, but I can assure him I have. I was obliged to him for saying that religious fervour was not unknown in prisons and in gaols. In fact, there is the greater reason why there-should be more of it there than anywhere else, because it is more needed. Stone walls do a prison make, and iron bars a cage, whether a man has any religious profession or not. Now look at this. What are the reasons that induce scorers of thousands of people to give to the Noble Lord's own faith a certain amount of statistical support by saying they are Anglicans? There are many reasons.
I can remember an occasion when I was about to be asked with Mr. Cunning-hame-Graham—the House remembers the incident—by an official, what our religious belief was. Before we could reply a man who had been there before ventured to say to us what we should do. He said, "Church of England, governor." Before I could ask why, he said, "Three services on Sunday, and excellent hymns." The Noble Lord ought to follow that up. That simple fact of three services on Sunday with excellent hymns practically determines for those who have been in prison several times what their religious faith will be. Silence is the rule in prison, and if the Noble Lord were to go to church in a prison and hear a thousand prisoners singing hymns, he would hear the best hymn-singing he has ever heard in his life. But why is it so sincere? Why is it so well done? Why is it so loud? Because those who know how to do it use the singing as an opportunity for conveying messages to each other, which they could not do if there were fifteen Methodists, twenty-two Roman Catholics, and only three Presbyterians, and a warder watching every movement. I can assure the 276 Noble Lord that when "Lead, Kindly Light" is being sung in Pentonville Prison there are many four ounce loaves of bread passed from one prisoner who does not want it to one who he thinks wants it more, and that is why ninety per cent. of these people say they are Church of England. The Noble Lord would say, "What has that to do with the view outside?" Why as to the view outside, when the Census paper is being considered in Bermondsey or Rotherithe, or any place where these sacerdotalists of prison mostly congregate, this fact clouds them and they say Church of England. They have been in the habit of doing it, and they continue to say outside what they say inside. When you have from three to four thousand people who are tempted by the ministrations of kindly parsons into a regular habit which they have got into by visits to these places it interferes with accurate statistical information to an extent that you can hardly conceive. But let us take a man who has not been to prison. Let us take the Noble Lord, if I may to a Cot tars' Saturday night Census, say a shoe maker in Northampton. He and his wife sit down to it. It is a very difficult thing to fill up some of these Census papers, and takes two or three hours. He says, "What shall I put down for religions," and the wife says. "Tom, Church of England to please the children." It does not
And, it being a Quarter past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.