Monday, 27 July 2015

Mebyon Kernow demands “Cornish” tickbox on 2021 census

On behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall, I have responded to an Office of National Statistics (ONS) consultation about the content of the 2021 census.

The representation was as follows:

“The 2021 Census – Initial view on content for England and Wales” – consultation

I am writing on behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall (MK) concerning the above consultation. In particular, we wish to focus our representations on the initial view of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the questions relating to ethnicity and national identity; namely that they be included, unaltered, in the 2021 census.

MK is extremely disappointed that the ONS has failed to include the option of Cornish within the relevant tickboxes, even through the Cornish were recognised as a national minority through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in April 2014.

The ONS will recall that the Government, in making the announcement, 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.”

This was a landmark ruling, which it would be unjust and illogical for the ONS to ignore. It is clear to us that the ethnicity and national identity questions on the 2021 census must therefore treat the Cornish in the same manner as the “UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

National identity

In the 2011 census, question 15: “how would you describe your national identity?” there were six tickboxes: “English,” “Welsh,” “Scottish,” “Northern Irish,” “British,” and “Other, write in …” It is our view that, now the Cornish are recognised as a national minority, the question on national identity in the 2021 census should include a tickbox for “Cornish.”


In the 2011 census, question 16: “what is your ethnic group?” included the option of “English / Welsh / Scottish / Northern Irish / British.” It is our view that, now the Cornish are recognised as a national minority, the question on ethnicity in the 2021 census should also acknowledge those individuals who wish to record their identity as Cornish.

MK would further add that in the 2011 census a total of 83,499 people from across Cornwall, England and Wales, used “write in” options to self-identify as Cornish. Within Cornwall itself, 73,200 people described themselves as Cornish on the form, equating to 13.8% of the population. This is comparable in statistical terms to the 14% of people in Wales who wrote-in Welsh in the 2001 census, prior to the inclusion of a “Welsh” tickbox in 2011.

It is our view that the case for a tickbox for “Cornish” is overwhelming. It would provide parity between all national minorities within the United Kingdom and give greater value to the overall statistics.

Cornish language

Mebyon Kernow notes that the ONS is also stating that, in Wales, it intends to collect information on the usage of the Welsh language. We are disappointed that there are no proposals to include a question on the usage of the Cornish language in Cornwall.

We would point out that the Cornish language is protected through the auspices of the Charter for the Protection of Regional and Minority Languages, and it would therefore be illogical not to collect data relating to the language.

Further information

We believe that the points we have raised need to be addressed and would be willing to arrange a delegation to meet with representatives of the ONS to discuss the issues in more detail.


craig weatherhill said...

A Cornish tick-box should be automatic now that we have formal recognition under the FCNM. Or do we? Cornwall Council has ignored it for 15 months. A dragged out response from them in eventual answer to my FOI, requesting sight of the Council's FCNM policy (and why it never got a mention in the Local Plan debate), came up with a claim that it's in draft form, which will be presented to Members for amendment and ratification (no date for this mentioned). But hold on....what is there for Members to "amend" or "ratify"? The FCNM is already ratified by higher authorities than them, and Cornwall Council has no right to "amend" or to pick and choose which parts of the FCNM to implement and which to ignore. It has applied to them, as it has to everyone else, since April 24, 2014. Here's a FCNM policy for the Council, drafted in 5 minutes, not 15 months:

"Cornwall Council undertakes to fully implement and abide by the FCNM in its entirety, with regard to the Cornish national minority, and to all other national minorities currently included in the Framework Convention." And I won't charge them a penny for my services.

It is my firm belief that the Council is deliberately delaying this policy until the Local Plan is finalised - the housing target will certainly breach Article 16 of the FCNM regarding the alteration of population proportions in areas inhabited by national minorities. However, they seem to be forgetting that they have been obliged to abide by the FCNM for the last 15 months!

MawKernewek said...

What I want to know is what happens if you wrote into the Census 'Cornwall' as your country of birth? Would it have been recorded as such, or as a non-response, or recoded to something else?