Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Get out of my bedroom

Sometimes a proposal comes along to prove how far removed the types in the Commission really are from reality. Today's example comes in the form of a draft regulation on Population Housing Censuses.

One of the questions that they would like to see included in any future national census is the following,

"Date(s) of the beginning of the consensual union(s) of women having ever been in consensual union: (i) first consensual union and (ii) current consensual union"
This is mind boggling in the extreme. Historically census questions are a rich source of trouble. In 2001 at least a million people refused to answer the census, and famously of those who did answer the then new religious affiliation question, more than 300,000 answered Jedi Knight, making Jedi the fourth largest religion in the UK.

Other questions include such useful information as,

- Durable consumer goods possessed by the household
- Availability of car parking
- Telephone and internet connection
- Own-account agricultural production (household level)(Those tomatoes on the balcony?)
- Separation of waste in the household
Plus all the normal questions involving number of rooms, who you work for, formal or informal work, ethnicity, what country you come from, education etc. etc. etc.

So what this will mean if passed in Committee is that in future the EU will instruct national authorities what question they must ask (and in the case of these questions those that would like the national statistics bodies to ask) in order that they can set policy with greater accuracy.
But this means that they will have the right to demand, on pain of a significant fine to wander into your house, check on your possessions, take a stroll around your garden and then the final indignity look between the sheets to count the stains.

Worse still is the thought that with modern marketing and database software, either private business, political parties or scariest still the Government may well be able to pinpoint individuals with unerring accuracy. Tie this to a national ID database and I start to go a little grey.

It is odd though that the consensual union question only refers to women. Which given that there is a sexual orientation question as well, means that they can narrow down how sexually active straight and gay women are, but not men. This is, I am told because, women are more likely to be stable, whereas men flit from bedroom to bedroom, thereby providing duff statistics.
However, if this idea sees the light of day I have a small suggestion. Either claim that you are a virgin or maybe claim over a 1000 unions. I would love to see them untangle that. And after all we know that God is an Englishman and everybody on the continent knows we don't have a sex life, so a few million virgin births shouldn't trouble anybody overmuch.

The BBC has reported this here,
UKIP MEP Derek Clark said he was "appalled that the EU thinks it has the right to ask women such deeply personal questions and I defy anybody to give me a reason as to what use the answers will be".

He said the proposed census questions were "the work of a group of MEPs who must spend their private time peering over their neighbours' fences".

"I'd be incredible interested to know how a green-fingered couple in possession of a wide screen TV who sleep together will help housing planning, but I've no doubt the EU will come up with some lunatic reason how it does."

Mr Clark added: "This report is both crackers and deeply offensive.

"When will politicians realise that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual?"


Anonymous said...

Sorry, matey! It looks as if you've been had. My reading of "consensual union" is that it's PC-speak for living in sin. Admittedly, it's still pretty sick stuff. But beware of BBC sensationalism in the future.

Elaib Harvey said...

I take your point, but the problem is, as the Commission official admitted in Committee, that the language will be pc, therefore it will be incomprehensible to the vast majority of people.
And even if, as you say this is merely asking for those who are living together informally, the question is still intrusive, and the fact that it talks about only women is, though statiscally sensible, politically poor judgement.
In the light of missing CDs and a host of other breaches of database security, In cannot imagine anyone being happy that the EU or HMG has acess to such levels of detail about our lives.
And yes, the Beeb did rather over egg the pudding.

1389 said...

"When will politicians realise that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual?"

Now that's a great quote.

BTW, welcome to the blogroll at 1389 Blog - Antijihadist Tech!

Lirix said...

The spelling and grammar in this article is consistantly poor, making a fairly sound argument come across as less credible. A good point though. Who was that quote "When will politicians realise that George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual?" from?