§ Mr. BIRRELL
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question, which appears to relate to the Irish Census Returns. I understand that the destruction of the Returns for 1861 and 1871 was authorised many years ago by the Irish Government, as they could not be treated as Public Records, in consequence of an undertaking given on the householders' forms to the effect that the information would be published in general abstracts only, and that strict care would be taken that the Returns should not be used for the gratification of curiosity or for any other object than that of rendering the Census as perfect as possible. No such undertaking was given in connection with the Census Returns of 1841 and 1851 now in the Public Record Office. Before authorising the destruction of the Returns in question, the Irish Government ascertained that the Householders' Returns in connection with the Census of Great Britain in 1841, 1851, 1861, and 1871 had been destroyed.