Tag Archive for Civil Liberties

ONS telling Census staff they’re not part of the government

We’ve just had the census police at the door as we hadn’t returned our form. ¬†She had already been forewarned about my opinion of the census by the next door neighbour who happens to be her sister. ūüôā

As it happens, the census has been filled out and sealed in the envelope already but it just hadn’t been posted. ¬†She’ll be back soon though I expect.

I carefully followed the instructions on the front of the census form and complied with them to the letter. ¬†The instructions told me that I must participate, that I must not provide false information and that I should write in black or blue ink in capitals with one letter in each box (this is so Lockhead Martin, the contractors who have been paid millions up front to run the census, can read them cheaply by computer). ¬†I participated and I didn’t provide false information as instructed. ¬†As should doesn’t mean must, I chose to scrawl my answers across the boxes provided. ¬†Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a red pen or crayon to write with.

The census asked for the names of my children but didn’t specify that it had to be the name on their birth certificates so I gave their nicknames and left the surnames blank for security reasons. ¬†I declined the opportunity to tell them who my employer was as I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act and they already know who I work for from HMRC’s records (HMRC is a government department). ¬†I didn’t tell them how many bedrooms I have in my house because the Land Registry (a government department) already know. ¬†Similarly, I didn’t answer the question about whether we have passports because the Identity & Passport Office (another government department) already knows. ¬†I did helpfully point out to them where they could find the information.

I’ve checked the Census Act 1920 and it says that I have to answer the questions, nowhere does it say how I have to answer the questions other than truthfully. ¬†As far as I’m concerned “Ask the Land Registry” is a truthful answer to the question how many bedrooms does my house have.

Anyway, the census person will no doubt be back in a few days to tell me that I haven’t filled it out properly and have to do it again.

Interestingly, when we were talking about what I’d written on the census, she told me that the government don’t get the census, the ONS do. ¬†When I pointed out the ONS is part of the British government, she said she had been told that it wasn’t part of the government. ¬†I pointed out that the website for ONS is ons.gov.uk. ¬†“Oh yeah,” she said.

Naughty ONS, they’re even lying to their own staff!