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BBC Wales's Sian Lloyd
"Graham Jones is on a charm offensive"
 real 56k

Graham Jones, Director 2001 Census
"What we need to do now is be positive, look forward and conduct a successful census in Wales"
 real 56k

2001 Census Director Graham Jones
"I sincerely regret the upset and concern"
 real 28k

Friday, 5 January, 2001, 20:28 GMT
Census chief says sorry
2001 Census form
The census form does not include a Welsh option
The director of the 2001 census has said he is sorry for the upset caused in Wales by the absence of a Welsh "tick box" on this year's form.

Graham Jones is on a visit to Cardiff to officially launch the "Wales Counts" campaign - intended to persuade people not to ignore the census because of the ethnicity row.

But the Independent Wales party, which has been prominent in the campaign over the tick box issue, was issuing its own appeal on Friday, calling on people to boycott the census altogether.


I will be very disappointed if people do not fill in the forms

Graham Jones
The row blew up last year when it emerged that while people in Scotland have the option of classing themselves as "Scottish", people in Wales cannot term themselves "Welsh".

The Scottish Parliament had insisted that the national tick box was included, but the census for Wales is run from London,.

Although the Welsh Assembly protested when the tick box issue came to light, it has no power to change the forms itself.

Campaigners have described the absence of the tick box as an "insult" to Wales, and a 10,000-name petition on the issue was sent to Tony Blair last month.

But the Office of National Statistics and the Westminster government have refused to change the forms, saying it would cost too much.

Instead, they have announced a publicity campaign to tell people they can tick the box marked "Other" and write in the word "Welsh" .

A separate survey of Welsh identity is also to be carried out at the same time as the census.

Apology

During his visit to Cardiff, Mr Jones offered his own apology for the issue.

"I sincerely regret the upset and concern but unfortunately I do have to say that it is not possible to change the census form at this time," he said.

He said a Welsh tick box could be added for the 2011 census if a "strong enough voice" was raised.

But he said changes could not be made now because they would have to go through a complex parliamentary process.

He called on people to fill in the census form to provide a complete picture of Wales.

2001 census form
The census form does not include a Welsh option

"I think it is most important that we do have the most successful census," said Mr Jones.

"I will be very disappointed if people do not fill in the forms."

"We need to provide information that will supply resources for children and the elderly in Wales."

Mr Jones said preparation for this year's census had been going on for five years, and had included a pilot in Ceredigion.

Ethnicity 'was not an issue'

The ethnicity question had not been an issue during this period, although it had been raised by census managers in Wales when they became aware of it, he said.

But by then it was too late to make changes, as the complex process for setting out the form had gone through all its stages.

He added that for the first time a bilingual census form would be going to every household in Wales.

Other measures which have been included are a team of census managers in Wales and a bilingual helpline.

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See also:

16 Dec 00 | Wales
Welsh MPs join census campaign
12 Dec 00 | Wales
Welsh census row reaches London
06 Dec 00 | Wales
Assembly's census row demand
31 Oct 00 | Wales
Welsh 'hurt' by census omission
30 Oct 00 | Wales
Census campaign's protest
18 Oct 00 | Wales
Census review 'too costly'
11 Sep 00 | Wales
Welsh equality row over census
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