People who want to tick a box to identify as ‘Cornish’ in the next national census will have to wait to find out if they will have that option.
In a debate in the House of Commons this week St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Double called for Cornish identity to be recognised in the 2021 poll with the inclusion of a tick box.
Parliamentary Secretary Chloe Smith said the next census will, for the first time, be mostly conducted online and will provide the opportunity for all respondents to express their right to self-identify either through a tick box or a write-in option.
Ms Smith said the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which delivers the census, was watching the debate closely and would consider all the evidence to decide how best to gather the data.
She said: “On the need for a Cornish tick box in the next census, the ONS is working to ensure that those who identify as Cornish can and will do so in the 2021 census through a tick box or another means.”
Recommendations from the ONS will inform the Government’s census White Paper later this year.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Double said: “Along with Cornish MP colleagues and Cornwall Council I have been campaigning for the inclusion of a tick box for people who identify as Cornish on the next national census.
“My recent appointment to the Council of Europe, the body that recognised the Cornish ethnic minority status, will allow me to champion the cause of Cornwall and the Cornish on a wider stage, but it is also very important to keep pushing for the changes we need in Parliament.
“As a proud Cornishman I have always been clear that speaking up for Cornwall will always be my priority in Parliament and this debate provided another opportunity to do just that.
“The Government has been very supportive of Cornwall in recent times. We are seeing record levels of investment in our transport infrastructure and Cornwall remains the only rural county to have been given a devolution deal. However, when it comes to the specific matter of recognition of the Cornish as a people there is still a great deal to do.
“In the debate, I highlighted that sadly, despite the recognition afforded by the European framework convention, and embraced in words by the UK Government, the Government has been criticised by the Council of Europe for not doing enough to address the cultural needs of communities in Cornwall. There have been warm words but little action.
“I was pleased to highlight to the Minister, as it stands currently, the Cornish are the only nationality recognised by the Government under the framework convention not to be recognised in the census. No other group can make that claim.
“In this way the Cornish case is unique. No one else can make the case we can for inclusion.
“Monday’s debate was an important one in highlighting this issue on a national level. I will continue to do all I can to press the case for positive change and ensure that Cornish people, one and all, are given tangible recognition in the future.
“I was pleased that the Minister confirmed there has yet to be a decision made on the inclusion of a tick box to identify as Cornish in the 2021 census.
“This provides myself and the other Cornish MPs, as well as other groups across Cornwall an opportunity to continue to make the sensible and logical case for a Cornish tick box to be included.
“I was also delighted the Minister was clear in her recognition of the importance of the Cornish national identity, and the importance of gathering accurate data on this.
“It is great the Government has committed to gather this data, however it does it, and I will continue to do all I can to make sure this happens.”