The Office of National Statistics has today published its “full response” to the consultation on content for the 2021 census for "England and Wales.” Also included on the ONS website are a range of topic reports, including one on “ethnicity and national identity.”
I am disappointed in the response from the ONS in relation to requests for a Cornish tickbox in 2021, which would be similar to that afforded to the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh in 2011.
The organisation does reference the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in relation to the Cornish, but also states that the ONS continue to believe that the “provision of write-in options in the ethnic group and national identity questions meet this user requirement.”
Obviously, I think this is not appropriate, though the ONS has also confirmed that there will be a further consultation on options for ethnic group questions.
Specific extracts from the topic report are as follows:
In April 2014 the Framework Convention was amended to include Cornish as a National Minority group. When announcing this change, the Government stated: “The decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.” They go on to state: “The Government’s approach to the Framework Convention is to be modified to recognise the unique position of the Cornish as a Celtic people within England. It is without prejudice as to whether the Cornish meet the definition of “racial group” under the Equality Act 2010 7, as only the courts can rule on that.”
Summary of consultation responses
From across the consultation responses specific requests for additional options within the ethnicity question included; Anglo-Irish, Cornish, Cypriot, Eastern European, English, Gypsy, Irish Traveller, Jewish, Kashmiri, Latin American, Orthodox Jewish, Roma, Sikh, Somali, Turkish, Western European, White Cornish, White European and Yemeni. Some respondents also advocated allowing respondents to tick multiple categories and removal of the use of colour terminology.
Requests for additional options within the national identity question included further regional identity options, for example Cornish.
Equality implications of the updated view of ONS
In 2014, the Cornish were recognised as a National Minority under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. ONS continue to believe that the provision of write-in options in the Ethnic Group and National Identity questions meet this user requirement. In the 2011 Census, 83 thousand usual residents wrote in ‘Cornish’ as their National Identity. Of these, 73 thousand lived in Cornwall, comprising approximately 14% of the population. The remaining 10 thousand resided elsewhere in England and Wales.
Despite the availability of write-in response options ONS has received feedback from some stakeholders expressing the need for the inclusion of more tick-box response options within the ethnic group and national identity questions. Dedicated tick-box options are included where the user need for the data is strongest as space on census forms is finite both online and on paper. With this limitation in mind, ONS intends to undertake a review of the ethnic group response options, and will consider this alongside the national identity and religion response options. This review is discussed in greater detail in the following section.
ONS intends to undertake a review of the ethnic group response options, and will consider this alongside the national identity and religion response options. This will involve consultation with stakeholder groups that have expressed an interest in this question.
The review will follow a similar format to that undertaken prior to the 2011 Census whereby response options were prioritised. This methodology is described in the Information Paper “Deciding which tick-boxes to add to the ethnic group question in the 2011 England and Wales Census.” This methodology will be reviewed and updated to reflect current legislation. This will involve engagement with key stakeholders to ensure data needs to support the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010 are well understood.
For more information, see https://www.ons.gov.uk/census.