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Please don’t axe the census

Comment 10th July 2010

Reports in today's newspapers suggest the government is about to scrap the census. This is the first coalition money saving policy idea that I have to disagree with, simply because of the value of census information to future generations.

There may well be other sources of population information available for the government to rely on that are more up to date than the census, however these new sources cannot possibly give the range of information about relationships between individuals that is to be found on the existing census.

If the census is to be abolished then the government should at least consider replacing it with a voluntary electronic version so that those who want to leave a record for future generations can do so. The information on the electronic census could perhaps be released within a much shorter timeframe than the current census.

Why does this matter?

Millions of Britons worldwide have been able to trace their ancestry through UK census records. It is perhaps the ONLY set of government records that are of use to the average citizen rather than the just the government.

To axe the census would leave future generations without a reliable source for familial information as the private databases the government intends to use in future will almost certainly not be accessible because of data protection laws.

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