Author Topic: Publication of Census taken in 1921  (Read 1829 times)

Offline Gossypium

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Publication of Census taken in 1921
« on: Wednesday 15 November 17 15:26 GMT (UK) »
Recently I wrote to my MP to ask if the 1921, 1931 and 1941 censuses could be published on the grounds that the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US censuses have been published and are searchable on various websites.  The period of closure of census records in the USA is 72 years.

My MP received a reply from John Pullinger, National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, to say that there are no plans at present to review the period of closure or the Government's policy to retain all personal census information for 100 years.  Government seeks to uphold strict confidentiality assurances given to respondents.

Assuming that nobody would respond to questions asked by a census enumerator until the age of 18, the household returns in the 1931 census are unlikely to have been completed by anyone who was born after 1913.   Someone born in 1912 would be 104 or 105 today, of whom there cannot be very many living.  Therefore it would be reasonable to ask your MP if the UK Government will review its policy and the period of closure such that the 1921 and 1931 censuses may be published earlier than planned.  This would still uphold the confidentiality assurances given to respondents born after 1913.

If you would like the 1921 and 1931 censuses to be published earlier than planned, please write to your MP whose email address can be found here:

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

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Offline rosie99

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Re: Publication of Censuses of England & Wales taken in 1921 and 1931
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 15:33 GMT (UK) »
Apparently the 1931 census was destroyed by fire
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=1931_Census

ADDED There was no census in 1941 either due to WW2 but there is the 1939 register which is available now on FindMyPast
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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Offline Gossypium

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Publication of Census taken in 1921
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 15:53 GMT (UK) »
Thanks Rosie.  I have just written again to my MP as follows:

I should like to request the Government to review its policy of retention and the period of closure such that the 1921 census may be published earlier than planned.

This would still uphold the confidentiality assurances given to respondents born after 1903, assuming that nobody would respond to questions asked by a census enumerator until the age of 18.

The household returns in the 1921 census are unlikely to have been completed by anyone who was born after 1903. 

Someone born in 1902 would be 114 or 115 today.  I am sure that Mr Pullinger knows how many are living, likely a very small number.

I understand that the 1931 census in its entirety was destroyed by fire and that no census was taken in 1941 due to the War, but there is the 1939 register has been published and can be searched by the public on www.findmypast.com making my request regarding the 1921 census a reasonable one!

Rosie, I will report back when I receive a response,but it would be good if you and others wrote similarly to your respective MPs.

Offline davidft

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Re: Publication of Censuses of England & Wales taken in 1921 and 1931
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 16:06 GMT (UK) »
If you do a search on this site you will see this question comes up from time to time. There is no chance of the 1921 census being released earlier as explained in the earlier threads and the reason why. I am afraid you are going to have to wait until 1922 like the rest of us.

Also your analogy between the 1939 National Registration and the 1921 Census is totally erroneous as they are different documents authorised under different legislation. It is because of the respective legislation that the 1939 could be published and the 1921 can not without first passing new legislation and the Government have their hands rather full in respect of legislation for the next couple of years at least.

Offline Gossypium

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Re: Publication of Census taken in 1921
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 16:20 GMT (UK) »
Thank you David or your comments.  However, if you do not ask, you do not get.  Maybe we can find one or more MPs whose hobby in genealogy and might be willing to sponsor a Private Member's Bill?

Offline rosie99

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Re: Publication of Census taken in 1921
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 16:34 GMT (UK) »
I am sure my MP has more to worry about than getting the 1921 census released early (if at all).  I can think of far more important things that I would like him to deal with  ::)
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Guy Etchells

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Re: Publication of Census taken in 1921
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 16:38 GMT (UK) »
I disagree Davidft for a number of reasons.

1) Government policy is just that policy it is not legally binding.
2) The Advisory Council on Public Records and Archives (ACPRA) October 1998 statement about the closure of census records stated-

"The Council considered the appropriateness of the closure period of 100 years which applied to the decennial census of population. It concluded that since undertakings of confidentiality had been given in the past by successive governments to people making returns, any reduction in the closure period for censuses up to that taken in 1991 would be a breach of confidence. It also felt, however, that a shorter period, of 80 years for instance, might be appropriate for future censuses."

However in December 2003 it was admitted that ACPRA had not considered the implications of the Freedom of Information Act for this issue.

The Freedom of Information Act states
“1 General right of access to information held by public authorities.

(1)Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled—

(a)to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and

(b)if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.”

In other words government policy is going against a law that governs England & Wales.
That being the case the government are required to comply with the law or change the law.

There are a number of other reasons why the 1921 census could be released now if the will was there as I found out when I was researching the legal aspects of releasing the 1921 census.
Note I do not say releasing the 1921 census early because as the law stands today no further census can ever be released.

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Guy
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Offline davidft

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Re: Publication of Census taken in 1921
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 18:23 GMT (UK) »
I disagree Davidft for a number of reasons.

Yes but then you always do.

I was hoping to be out of this thread before you found it but alas not. OK so you think you are an expert on this, I and many others more informed than me disagree. Rather than have yet another argument with you I will leave it there. As I said earlier in the thread this topic comes up often and its possible to look back and see the arguments on both sides rather than rehearse them here yet again.

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: Publication of Census taken in 1921
« Reply #8 on: Wednesday 15 November 17 19:29 GMT (UK) »
Thanks Rosie.  I have just written again to my MP as follows:

I should like to request the Government to review its policy of retention and the period of closure such that the 1921 census may be published earlier than planned.

This would still uphold the confidentiality assurances given to respondents born after 1903, assuming that nobody would respond to questions asked by a census enumerator until the age of 18.

The household returns in the 1921 census are unlikely to have been completed by anyone who was born after 1903. 
A census enumerator didn't ask questions. Their responsibility was delivering and collecting household returns and chasing up any late ones. It was up to the head of household to ensure the census return was completed correctly and ready for collection.
 You cannot say who may have filled in a household return. A child or teenager may have done so. My 9 year-old aunt was the only other person in the household with her aged, illiterate grandfather, a farmer,  on an earlier census, her parents being out of the country. It's possible that she completed the form, and that the spelling mistakes were hers. Her grandfather certainly didn't.
Everyone who had been born by census day 1921 was included. Many of them are still alive.  The confidentiality applies to them.