Anorak News | Question Times

Question Times

by | 9th, March 2006

‘AT the last census in 2001, seven people in every thousand in England and Wales gave their religion as ‘Jedi’ in the box marked ‘any other religion’.

Are you Michael Cashman?

That was the first time a question on religion was included in the census, and it was the only question it was not compulsory to answer.

We live in changing times. Years ago, asking about a Britisher’s religion would have been unnecessary because we were all Church-going Anglicans and too polite to ask.

And, as the Telegraph reports, there will be new questions to answer in the next national interrogation. In 2011, we will be asked about our income?

Where does you money come from? Do you own a second home? And what language do you like to do business in? These are all questions that are being considered for inclusion in the survey.

People might not like telling the Government such things. And Joy Dobbs, the census co-ordinator at the Office for National Statistics, is worried about over-complicating things. “We need to get high responses and to get high responses we need to make sure the census is as easy to complete as we can,” says she.

For sure, the last census ran to 40 invasive questions and, as the paper calculates, took one hour to complete. And, as the Times reminds us, it featured such vital questions as: Do you own a pet? Do you use childcare or a wheelchair? What is your level of proficiency in the English language? Do you know what proficiency means?

And then there was that question on religion? Why did the Government want to know? Was it planning for the Queen’s 2002 Golden Jubilee jamboree and wanted to know how many kosher and halal burgers to order?

We may never know why such information is deemed important, only that we as loyal subjects must surrender it.

And things may yet get more intrusive. The 2011 census will not ask for your sexual orientation, but such a question will be posed in one of the ONS’s existing surveys, like the General Household survey of 20,000 households.

The Times says that this is not the Government being nosy, but a response to pressure from gay rights group who argue that it is difficult to provide adequate public services without such data.

So are you gay? Are you a Jew? Are you pretty well off? Are you Michael Cashman, former EastEnders soap actor and now MEP for the West Midlands?

Well, it is all a bit of game. So we might as well play along…’

Posted: 9th, March 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink