Philip Johnston writes in the Daily Telegraph about the 2011 Census:
But there are so many other sources of demographic information these days – from supermarket loyalty cards to Government databases – that the census could usefully be pared back to its original purpose: a simple population count. Any additional required information can be obtained from other sources, such as tax and benefit records, driving licences and household surveys. Why should the state know your sexual proclivities or whether you worship Allah or are a Jedi knight?
Past censuses are, of course, trawled by family historians for information that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. The huge numbers visiting the 1911 census website demonstrate their popularity – but they are not a seamless historical source: the 1931 records were destroyed in a fire and there was no census in 1941 because of the war. In any case, future genealogists will be able to find out in minute detail what their ancestors were up to by examining their Facebook and Twitter records.
But if you find the modern census overly intrusive, tough luck: there is a £1,000 fine for refusing to complete the form. March 27 would, though, be a more restful Sunday if we had the option to tick a box that read, “Mind your own business”.