Census Act 1920

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Census Act 1920
Long title An Act to make provision for the taking from time to time of a Census for Great Britain or any area therein and for otherwise obtaining Statistical Information with respect to the Population of Great Britain.
Citation 10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 41
Territorial extent  Great Britain
Royal assent 16 August 1920
Other legislation
Amended by Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991
Census (Amendment) Act 2000
Relates to Census Act (Northern Ireland) 1969
Status: Amended
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Census Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 41) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Providing for a census for Great Britain (or any subsidiary part of it), on a date to be fixed by Order in Council, it remains the primary legislation for the provision of the UK census in England, Scotland, and Wales. A minimum of five years is required between censuses.

Parts of the Act[edit]

  1. Power to direct taking of census.
  2. Duty of Registrar-General to carry out census, and provision for expenses.
  3. Regulations with respect to proceedings for taking census.
  4. Preparation of reports and abstracts.
  5. Preparation of statistics in respect of periods between one census and another.
  6. Provision with respect to local census.
  7. Expenses of local authorities.
  8. Penalties.
  9. Application to Scotland.
  10. Short title and extent.


The Schedule to the Act lists the 'Matters in respect of which particulars may be required'. They are:

  1. Names, sex, age.
  2. Occupation, profession, trade or employment.
  3. Nationality, birthplace, race, language.
  4. Place of abode and character of dwelling.
  5. Condition as to marriage, relation to head of family, issue born in marriage.
  6. Any other matters with respect to which it is desirable to obtain statistical information with a view to ascertaining the social or civil condition of the population.

Religion was added at 5A in the Schedule by the Census (Amendment) Act 2000 (c. 24) in England and Wales, and the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2000 in Scotland. The 2000 amendment also added a clause in Section 8 of the 1920 Act to make the provision of religion optional:

no person shall be liable to a penalty under subsection (1) for refusing or neglecting to state any particulars in respect of religion

See also[edit]


  • Oliver & Boyd's new Edinburgh almanac and national repository for the year 1921, p. 228

External links[edit]