A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



2.0 The Pilot stages of the inquiry and the procedure to the point of the questionnaire have already been described in the introduction.

2.1 The Questionnaire

A copy of the questionnaire is bound with this report as Appendix IV. It is a document produced for rapid handling and mechanical tabulation. It is, therefore, not a questionnaire in the commonly understood sense since the formulation of the questions was left to the field worker in many cases and as in almost all cases the possible answers were grouped and pre-coded.

The questionnaire asked first of all questions about the family, then about interests and finally there were questions about the home and the community.

A separate questionnaire was addressed to the husband and wife and to any unmarried adults who were living with the household. In practice a few recently married adults who had not yet set up independent homes were also interviewed.


2.2 The Sample

The sample was basically a random sample of all houses rated at less than £35. This was considered to include houses in which families of the working class were likely to be found. Within Glasgow and Edinburgh, however, this was modified because of the enormous travelling distances involved for our field workers and the random sample was selected within wards chosen as being representative of the inner, middle and outer zones of these two great cities.

The inquiry was conducted in the following cities:-





A group of medium size towns - selected as representative





and a group of small towns - selected as representative



Buckhaven and Methil

The sample was chosen to reflect the main features of Scottish urban life as is shown in the brief descriptions of the towns below.

Glasgow The largest city in Scotland situated on the River Clyde; Population 1,088,524; its industry is largely based on the iron deposits and coalfields of the neighbouring County of Lanarkshire and it owes much of its development to its position on the River Clyde. Its main or basic industries include shipbuilding and engineering, textiles, bleaching, printing and dyeing, manufacture of chemicals, confectionery and tobacco, and distilling. The developments of many very large war factories on the outskirts have affected to some extent the situation, particularly the journeys from home to work of many workers.

Edinburgh The capital of Scotland: population 439,010. Its main industries are printing, bookbinding and allied trades, the manufacture of rubber, clothing, biscuits and confectionery, brewing and distilling, and some light engineering. The adjoining port of Leith can be regarded as the port and industrial heart of Edinburgh.

Aberdeen A city on the Rivers Dee and Don; population 169,803. Its principal industries are granite quarrying, fishing, fish curing, light engineering, paper making and meal milling.

Dundee A city on the River Tay; population 175,681. Its most important industries are the manufacture of jute and linen, shipbuilding, ship repairing, engineering, tanning, shoemaking and confectionery.

Paisley A large burgh; population 86,445. The main industry is the manufacture of sewing thread which occupies a large proportion of female labour. Its situation in close proximity to Glasgow and the Clyde has resulted in there being a good deal of movement to and from Paisley by its workers. The basic industries include textiles and the manufacture of foodstuffs, tobacco and linoleum.

Falkirk A large burgh; population 36,566. It is the main centre of the light iron casting industry and has collieries, distilleries, chemical works and bleaching yards.

Kilmarnock A large burgh with a population of 38,681 which has light engineering, manufactures boots and shoes, has textiles, distilleries, and is a market and agricultural centre.

Hamilton A large burgh with a population of 37,990; is a garrison town and was formerly an important coal-mining centre. It is within the influence of Glasgow and the River Clyde.

Inverness A large burgh with a population of 22,583. Its main importance is as a railway and tourist centre.

Hawick A small burgh of 17,059. It is a centre for the manufacture of hosiery, tweeds and woollens.

Buckhaven and Methil A small burgh with a population of 18,150. It is a fishing town and port, and is important for the export of coal.

In Glasgow the following Wards were selected upon the advice of Mr. W. Gordon, Town Clerk Depute:-

In the inner zone - Mile-end
In the middle zone - Parkhead
Kinning Park
In the outer zone - Springburn

In Edinburgh the following Wards were visited upon the advice of Mr. R. H. Matthews of the Department of Health for Scotland:-

In the inner, zone - - St. Leonards
South Leith
In the middle zone - Marchiston
North Leith
In the outer zone - Liberton

Maps showing the zones in the large towns and the distribution of the wards chosen in Glasgow and Edinburgh are given as Appendix I.

5 6 7 8 9

2.3 The Sample Analysed

2.3 1 In order to facilitate the interpretation of the data in the report the sample has been analysed in detail both from the point of view of the human composition of the families visited and from the point of view of the houses, their type, location and neighbourhood.

The total number of families visited was 2,527 and in these families 2,461 housewives were interviewed, 1,338 husbands, 497 unmarried males and 849 unmarried females.

The data for the wife, the husband and the unmarried adults are treated separately in the report.

The large difference between the number of husbands interviewed and the number of wives is accounted for by the fact that a very great number of husbands were absent in the forces, away on government duty or working on shifts which made interviewing impracticable.

2.3 2. Family Composition

A detailed picture of the family composition of our households is given below. The method of analysis is to give first of all the number in family, then the number of children under 14, then an analysis of the number of males absent in the services or on war service and finally the number of females similarly absent. From this can be obtained some idea of the normal composition of the family.

Number in Family Number of Children under 14
Family Size Proportion of the Sample Proportion of the Sample
% %
1 7 None 48
2 17 1 23
3 22 2 16
4 21 3 7
5 14 4 3
6 7 5 2
7 5 6 or more 1
8 3
9 or more 3
SAMPLE: 2525 families SAMPLE 2526 families
2 unclassified 1 Unclassified

The planning of housing requires a knowledge not only of the absolute size of the family but also of the main pattern of family composition and a picture is given below of the family composition in terms of adults and children, of those families with one adult and a certain number of children, of those families with two adults and a certain number of children and so on. The proportions that the largest groups are of the whole sample are also given:-

Family Composition

No. % No. %
1 Adult 176 7 4 Adults 196 8
1 Adult 1 child 7 4 Adults 1 child 96 4
1 Adult 2 children 5 4 Adults 2 children 39 2
1 Adult 3 children 1 4 Adults 3 children 28 1
1 Adult 3 children 2 4 Adults 4 children 7
2 Adults 419 16 5 Adults 99 4
2 Adults 1 child 285 11 5 Adults 1 child 55 2
2 Adults 2 children 234 9 5 Adults 2 children 27 1
2 Adults 3 children 103 4 5 Adults 3 children 12
2 Adults 4 children 36 2
2 Adults 5 children 16 1 6 Adults 33 1
2 Adults 6 children 10 6 Adults 1 child 24 1
6 Adults 2 children 16 1
3 Adults 272 11
3 Adults 1 child 101 4 7 Adults 14 1
3 Adults 2 children 67 3 7 Adults 1 child 15 1
3 Adults 3 children 26 1
3 Adults 4 children 17 1 8 Adults 6
3 Adults 5 children 12 9 or more Adults or children in family 71 3
SAMPLE: 2527

A study was also made of the number of men and women absent from the normal family and a summary of the total position is given below:-

Members of Families Absent

Proportion of the Sample
Number Away Male Female
% %
None 66 93
1 26 6
2 6 1
3 or more 2 -
SAMPLE: 2527

A somewhat different picture of the family composition can be obtained by taking the families in which different groups of persons are absent.

In 63% of all cases no man or woman was absent from the home, in 23% of cases one man only was absent, in 5% of cases two men only were absent and in 1% of cases three men only were absent. In 3% of cases one woman only was absent, in 3% of cases also one woman and one man were absent. The number of cases in which more persons were absent than this was negligible.

53% of the housewives interviewed were mothers of children, 47% had no children.

2.3 3 Age Analysis

Details of the age composition of the sample are given below. They accord fairly closely with what is known about the present composition of the population in Scotland.

Unmarried Adults
Age Male Female Husband Wife
% % % %
13 - 18 years 40 28 - -
19 - 35 years 32 57 19 27
36 - 50 years 27 13 42 35
51 and over - - 36 35
Age unclassified 1 2 3 3
ALL 497 849 1338 2461

2.3 4. Analysis by Industry

91% of the husbands interviewed were working, 18% of wives, 91% of unmarried males and 84% of unmarried females. Details of the industries in which they were employed are given below:-

Industry Unmarried Adults
Shipbuilding, Engineering, Metal Manufacture & Founding 29 13 27 2
Textiles, Jute and Cotton 3 9 3 1
Chemicals, Explosives, Paints 2 2 1 -
Transport, Distributive (whole-sale & retail) Public Utilities 44 37 46 10
Mining 5 - 6 -
Clerical, Non-manual 8 17 5 2
Personal Service - 5 - 3
Industry unclassified - 1 3 -
All in paid employment 91 84 91 18
Retired and Unoccupied 9 16 9 -
Housewives - - - 82
SAMPLE 497 100 849 100 1338 100 2461 100

2.3 5 The House

73% of the families lived in tenement dwellings, 15% in flatted houses and the rest in terraced houses, 1 and 2 storey self-contained houses.

There were considerable differences between the towns of various sizes, the larger towns having a greater proportion living in tenements and smaller towns a greater proportion living in self-contained houses and flatted type houses.

There were also differences between the zones of large towns, the outer zone having a smaller proportion of families living in tenements and a higher proportion living in 2 storey self-contained houses and in flatted type houses. A detailed analysis is given below:-

Type of house Zone Town Size
Terraced - 1 2 1 2 5
Flatted 2 6 21 9 21 30
1 storey self-contained 1 2 2 1 5 8
2 storey self-contained 1 1 6 2 10 14
Tenement 96 89 67 86 61 42
No answer 1 1 2 1 1 1
All Families 480 571 347 1398 792 337

An analysis of the house types by the other data collected shows a considerable number of differences; for example a much greater proportion of those living in tenements are living in tenements built before 1914 and most of the families living in flatted type and self-contained houses are living in houses built between the two wars.

Type of house Pre-1914 1919-1939
% %
Terraced 2 2
Flatted 5 46
1 storey self-contained 3 6 Unclassified
2 storey self-contained 3 15 57
Tenement 87 31
No answer 1 1
SAMPLE: 1846 624

Almost all the privately owned houses were tenements. but the houses built by local authorities were distributed fairly equally between the flatted type and the tenement type with an appreciable number of self-contained houses as well. There were houses of all types owned by their occupiers.

L.A. Private Owned
Type of house % % %
Terraced 2 1 8
Flatted 40 6 15 Tied - 45
1 storey self-contained 3 2 22 Unclassified - 47
2 storey self-contained 13 2 22
Tenement 42 88 33
No answer - 1 -
SAMPLE: 636 1656 143

2.3 6 Age of Dwelling

There were considerable differences between the age of dwelling in different sized towns and in the various zones of large towns, in general there being more old houses in large towns and more old houses in the inner zones of large towns.

Age of Dwelling Zone Town Size
Inner Middle Outer Large Medium Small
% % % % % %
Built 1914 95 85 50 79 65 66
Built 1919 - 1939 2 14 50 19 32 32
Unclassified 3 1 1 2 3 2
All Families 480 571 347 1398 792 337

Most of the houses built by Local Authorities have been built since the last war, whereas most privately owned houses were built before 1914.

L.A. Private Owned
Age of Dwelling % % %
Built 1914 17 94 72
Built 1919 - 1939 81 4 24 Tied -45
Unclassified 2 2 4 Unclassified -47
SAMPLE: 636 1656 143

2.3 7 Neighbourhood

The neighbourhood in which the family lived was classified by the field worker into the following four groups on the basis of her impressions formed during the day and evening.

Noisy - districts with constant or frequent street noise such as traffic, trams or children playing. Districts near busy railways.
Quiet - districts without these noises.
Congested - districts with closely built streets without open spaces. Houses without gardens.
Open - districts with wide streets - open spaces and houses with gardens.

The largest proportion of noisy houses were to be found in large towns, the smallest proportion in small towns and within the large towns the greatest proportion was in the inner zone and the smallest proportion in the outer zone.

Zone Town Size
Inner Middle Outer Large Medium Small
% % % % % %
Noisy 73 63 46 62 30 19
Quiet 22 34 49 34 61 79
Unclassified 4 3 5 4 9 2
All Families 480 571 347 1398 792 337

There was a similar difference between the congested and open neighbourhoods.

Zone Town Size
Inner Middle Outer Large Medium Small
% % % % % %
Congested 85 73 33 67 47 21
Open 13 24 65 31 52 75
Unclassified 2 3 2 2 1 4
All Families 480 571 347 1398 792 337

Congested and noisy, and open and quiet were not entirely synonymous as will be seen by an analysis showing a proportion of congested houses which were noisy and the proportions which were quiet.

Noisy Quiet
% %
Congested 80 32
Open 18 67 Unclassified - 134
Unclassified 2 1
SAMPLE: 1171 1222

The type of dwelling was found to be different in different neighbourhoods. There was a much larger proportion of tenements in the congested areas than in the open, and in the noisy areas rather than in the quiet.

Congested Open Noisy Quiet
% % % %
Terraced 1 3 1 3
Flatted 3 31 5 24
1 storey self-contained 1 6 1 5
2 storey self-contained 1 12 2 10
Tenement 93 47 90 56
Unclassified 1 1 1 1
SAMPLE: 1382 1098 Unclassified 47 1171 1222 Unclassified 134

There were considerable differences in the neighbourhoods in which houses of different ages were found, almost all the houses in congested areas being built before 1914 and a very large proportion of those in noisy areas.

Congested Open Noisy Quiet
% % % %
Pre 1914 94 46 86 61
1919-1939 4 51 12 36
Unclassified 2 3 2 2
SAMPLE: 1382 1098 Unclassified 47 1171 1222 Unclassified 134

Throughout the body of the report the analyses which have been made reflect the factors described in detail above so that it may be necessary to refer back to this section in interpreting differences shown in the analyses of work, interests and house preferences.


2.4 The Inquiry

2.4 1 The Interview

In almost all cases the interview with each member of the families was conducted separately and care was taken not to allow the views of one member of the family to influence another.

In all cases a detailed account of the purpose of the survey and its relation of the planning of new housing estates and communities was explained.

It must be said at this point, however, that a very great number of the people interviewed received these explanations with skepticism and in some cases cynicism, but in spite of this the interviews were generally conducted with good humour and there was no lack of co-operation. Only in a mere handful of cases was an interview refused.

2.4 2 Tabulation

In order to handle the very large amount of data obtained from this inquiry the answers have been interpreted and resolved into groups. This information has been transferred to punched cards which are analysed by machines. A certain amount of compression resulted from this procedure but it had the advantage of resolving the data into groups large enough to show statistically significant differences.

2.4 3 The Report

The original inquiry was based on four main lines of approach which were the family, homes, the community and interests. In the report these have been expanded as follows: The data of the wife has been analysed into -

Getting a Living

Running a Home - Shopping

The Care of Children

Religious Practice


The Future House and Dwelling Place

For the husband and the unmarried adults the data has been analysed under three main heads:-

Getting a Living


The Future House and Dwelling Place

The report concludes with some comparisons of the life and interests of the husband, the wife and unmarried adults.

2.4 4 Limitations

In addition to the points already made about the problem of comparing the husband and the wife’s questionnaire and the sections on interests which were not prompted, there are limitations in this inquiry which must be borne in mind.

The most important of these is the fact that it was not possible within the scope of the inquiry, to ask questions about the satisfaction of the Scottish people with their present houses and present environment. This would have been interesting and relevant and it would have been useful to have been able to compare the satisfactions with different types of neighbourhood and with towns of different sizes. A small indication of what might have come out of this may be seen in the sections of the report which discuss people who are unwilling to move.

The final limitation of this report is that it is only concerned with reporting facts and does not attempt to make deductions from them or recommendations on the basis of them.

2.5 Acknowledgement

We should like to acknowledge the very considerable help we received from the Assessors and other officials in the Housing and Rating Departments of the cities where the inquiry was conducted who made it possible for us to draw a random sample from their records. Without this assistance the inquiry would have been impossible.

We should also like to acknowledge assistance given us by many other local officials and the police in finding our way and in other matters, and finally we must thank the Scottish men and women who so willingly gave up their time to discuss the problems of the inquiry.

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