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BBC Wales's Rhys Evans
"The question is being asked: If the Scots can do it, why not the Welsh?"
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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 06:16 GMT 07:16 UK
Census campaign's online strategy
Crowd scene
To say they are Welsh, people will have to tick the box marked "Other"
Campaigners who want the 2001 census to let people class themselves as "Welsh" is using the internet to publish an amended version of the forms.

In the 2001 census, there will be no special box for people to tick in order to classify their nationality as Welsh.

Welsh people will only have the option of classifying themselves as British, Irish or Other.

In Scotland, however, people will have the choice of describing themselves as Scottish through a special tick box which the Scottish Parliament has insisted is included on the forms.

For 'Welsh', read 'Other'

The Office for National Statistics has so far refused to include a Welsh tick box, saying that if people want to class themselves as Welsh they can tick the box marked "Other" and then write "Welsh" alongside.

This has provoked anger in some quarters in Wales, and there have been growing calls for Welsh people to be given the same status as the Scots.

A vociferous newspaper campaign to get the census forms changed has been launched; the Welsh Local Government Association has backed the calls, and a lawyer is seeking a judicial review of the decision.

'Insult' to Welsh

In the latest development, a campaigning body, the Census Reform Group, has published an amended version of the census form to include a Welsh tick box.

Ray Davies, co-ordinator of The Census Reform Group said, "This is an unmitigated insult to the Welsh people. It is a kick in the teeth for those many patriots who campaigned passionately for our new National Assembly.

Census campaigner Ray Davies
Census campaigner Ray Davies
"Both the Government and its bureaucrats have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to our protest but, as usual, they have totally underestimated the strong feeling of Welsh people.

"We are calling on all people who are proud to call themselves Welsh to disregard the ONS page on the official census and to use the one provided by The Census Reform Group," he said.

The ONS has said census legislation for Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Parliament, which had taken the decision to add the Scottish tick box.

However, for Wales, the matter was decided in London, and the decision was taken not to include a tick box for people to say they were Welsh.

Ieuan Wyn Jones:
Ieuan Wyn Jones: Census is "unacceptable"
The ONS said it was too late to change the boxes for the census, which is due to take place next year.

Last week in the National Assembly, First Minister Rhodri Morgan was told by Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, that the situation was "unacceptable".

Mr Morgan replied that the addition of a Scottish tick box was made by the Scottish Parliament at the last minute, and that the discontent in Wales only came about after the forms for Wales had been printed.

It would cost between 1m and 2m to print the forms again, and he doubted if the Treasury would authorise the expenditure.

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See also:

11 Sep 00 | Wales
Welsh equality row over census
18 Oct 00 | Wales
Census review 'too costly'
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