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.”
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.
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.
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.