Monday, 29 August 2016

Join MK in lobbying for greater recognition for Cornwall 3: Letter to the Prime Minister and Cornish MPs

On behalf of Mebyon Kernow, I have today sent a letter to the Prime Minister, copied to Cornish MPS, setting out my concerns that the UK Government is failing to act on the articles within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Why not join MK in lobbying on this important issue and send one yourself..

For information, my letter to the Mrs May was as follows:

In April 2014, the Coalition Government recognised the Cornish people through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The official governmental press release stated that “the decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

This landmark recognition came after many years of campaigning and, as a consequence, was warmly welcomed across Cornwall.

But two years on, there is a growing frustration that central government is failing to act on the various articles within the Framework Convention.

I am therefore writing to writing on behalf of Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall to raise a number issues which, we believe, the UK Government needs to address.


With the UK Government having signed up to both the Framework Convention and the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, it has an undeniable obligation to support and fund Cornwall’s distinct identity and culture, including the language.

The announcement in April this year that central government’s annual funding for the language (worth up to £150,000) had been removed came as a significant shock.

A five year programme of funding had actually been in the “devolution deal” agreed between the UK Government and Cornwall Council, until removed just before the document was finalised. We understand that the leader of Cornwall Council has since confirmed that, at that time, he had been “reassured” by the Department for Communities and Local Government that the removal of funding from the document “was a technical matter” and “that another funding route would be identified.”

You might be aware that over 10,000 people have already signed an on-line petition calling for this financial support to be re-instated, and we would ask that, in the spirit of the Framework Convention, the Government re-establish this much-needed and strategic investment in Cornwall’s national language.


As you will be aware, the UK Government passed the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which stated that the number of seats in the UK parliament should be reduced to 600 and – unless specified in the legislation – the electorates for seats should be within 5% of the various averages for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Sadly, the Act does not recognise the territorial integrity of Cornwall and, as the legislation stands, the outcome of Boundary Review (based on the provisions within the Act and the present electorate of Cornwall) would inevitably include the creation of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” constituency.

We would wish to point out that it is since the Act was agreed, that the UK Government agreed the Cornish are covered by the auspices of the Framework Convention.

We would therefore contend that the legislation which guides the Boundary Review is in conflict with the Framework Convention which, as well as protecting the culture and identity of national minorities, also seeks to protect the political integrity of territories associated with such groups.

In the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, the territories of other national minorities within the United Kingdom (namely the Scots, the Welsh and Northern Irish) are safeguarded and no seats can be proposed which would cross the land borders between England and Scotland or Wales.

I have already written to the Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, requesting that central government amend the Act, prior to completion of the parliamentary constituency review, in order ensure that all Cornish constituencies lie entirely within the boundaries of Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly).

It is our view that it would be relatively simple for central government to do this. Only a few months ago, the Government agreed “emergency” legislation to extend the deadline for people seeking to register to vote in the referendum on the European Union following the failure of it’s registration website. The Government could likewise deliver a simple amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, to respect the Framework Convention and Keep Cornwall Whole.

We would appeal to you, as Prime Minister, for your support for such a course of action.


As noted above, the UK Government clearly stated that the recognition of the Cornish people through the Framework Convention afforded them the “same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

Such recognition has not been forthcoming and central government does not deal with Cornwall in the same manner that it deals with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For example, Cornwall is the only Celtic part of the United Kingdom that is not represented at summits of the British-Irish Council held in Cardiff on 22nd July (see below).

As you will be aware, the summits are normally attended by politicians from the UK and Irish Governments, the Governments of Scotland and Wales, the Northern Ireland Executive, as well as the Governments of the Isle of Man (population 85,000), Guernsey (population 63,000) and Jersey (population 100,000).

It is our view that Cornwall (Population 540,000), as a historic national component of the United Kingdom, merits much greater political recognition and a proper devolved settlement on a par with the other Celtic parts of the UK.

We would also welcome your support in this regard.


Mebyon Kernow is also concerned that public bodies are failing to give due weight to the Framework Convention.

We would, for example, bring your attention the response of the Office of National Statistics to the public consultation on topics for possible inclusion in the 2021 Census, which was published in May.

We were particularly disappointed that the ONS stated they were not minded to include a Cornish tickbox in the national identity section, suggesting that it was adequate that individuals could write-in Cornish. As a consequence, we have challenged this assertion and requested that the ONS urgently reconsider the inclusion of such a tickbox in this upcoming census.

It should be noted that, in the documentation from the recent consultation, the ONS did reference the Framework Convention, but we take the view that the ONS failed to give significant enough weight to it when coming to its view not to include a Cornish tickbox.

Surely, it would be ridiculous to provide a tickbox facility for three of the UK’s four national minorities (the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish) but deny the opportunity to the fourth (the Cornish).

We would welcome your support in persuading the Office of National Statistics to better recognise the needs of the Cornish national minority.

I have copied this letter to Cornwall’s six MPs in order to seek their support on the above issues and look forward to hearing from you in the near-future.

1 comment:

Edwina Cousins said...

Thank you Dick for continuing support for us the people of Celtic Cornwall. You are the only voice we have. I hope that you get an audience with Mrs May