Census insensibility

July 15, 2010

Cutting waste in the British public sector is one thing; abolishing British history is quite another. The coalition government's proposals to kill off the national census after 2011 will seriously undermine future research in the fields of modern history, the social sciences and health studies. The argument that census data are already "out of date" once published a year later is fatuous. On this basis, the contents of all our great libraries and national archives may as well be treated as yesterday's fish-and-chip paper.

The proposal to rely instead upon a ragbag of government and commercial databases shows a lack of respect for future generations seeking an objective source of demographic data. The alternative will be for universities to conduct their own local demographic surveys and pool the results, perhaps contracting the work to the private sector. This would be extremely expensive compared with the 10-yearly "snapshot" collected by the state.

We owe it to future generations to tell the story of our "Big Society". It may be done more economically, but there is no alternative to the national census.

Anthony Rodriguez, Middlesex.

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