§ Mr. G. Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in view of the long period which has elapsed since a census was taken in most Colonies, what are his plans for taking comprehensive census statistics in the colonial Empire and to introduce general statistical services which are needed there.
§ Mr. George Hall
While the importance of obtaining up-to-date statistics of the population in Colonial Territories is fully appreciated, I fear that it will not be possible owing to shortage of staff for full censuses to be taken in all territories in the near future. In some territories, however, it is proposed as an interim measure to take a simplified form of population enumeration. The present position is as follows:
(1) Territories in which a census has recently been taken:
Gambia (in respect of St. Mary Island only).
(2) Territories in which it is hoped to take a full or modified census in 1946 or 1947:
Northern Rhodesia (in respect of the European and Asiatic population only).
(3) As regards West Africa the Government of Nigeria have arranged for an expert to visit the territory with a view to preparing a plan for a census, and efforts are being made to provide the Gold Coast Government with similar advice. The possibilities of taking censuses in Sierra Leone and the Gambia (apart from St. Mary Island) are to be reviewed early next year.
The importance of accurate statistical information in connection with plans for development is likely to lead to increasing demands from the Colonies for statistical services, but I fear that it is scarcely possible in present circumstances to forecast the extent of such demands nor the arrangements which will ultimately be made to meet them. The main difficulty in the immediate future is likely to be the shortage of qualified men available for employment in the Colonies.