Perpetuating the illusion that central planning is possible

Philip Booth writes for Conservative Home commending the idea of abolishing the census

It is very welcome news that the government is planning to scrap the census from 2021 (reported in the Daily Telegraph last week). Indeed, you might have first seen this suggestion on the IEA blog last February.

It has been suggested that the census will be replaced by the use of other data, survey evidence and so on. If we must collect data about the population as a whole, our sexual habits, the number of rooms in our houses and so on, then this is certainly a better way to collect it than a nationwide census. The last census seemed to be a complete shambles with incomplete data, a high level of non-returns, and so on, on a huge scale. At £0.5 billion, this shambles does not come cheaply.

So, given that abolishing the census will save a huge sum of money, the government should reconsider whether it can still call a halt to the 2011 census which it is still planning to undertake. However, more important than all this is that the central planning mentality that lies behind the census - and the collection of other official statistics - goes too. Perhaps a huge axe should be taken to the collection of government statistics more generally. Perhaps the government sho