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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK
Warning over Welsh census stickers
census form
Thousands of people have already filled in the census
People who use a sticker on the national census forms to show they are Welsh have been warned they will not be counted at all.

Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics has admitted that it might be partly to blame for the latest row to hit the census in Wales.

John Pullinger, executive director of the ONS, told BBC Radio Wales that it should have responded "with more clarity" when it was asked last month by Plaid Cymru about the validity of stickers produced by the party to declare Welsh nationality.

Simon Thomas , Ceredigion MP
Simon Thomas MP: Letter
He said they had responded to the Ceredigion MP Simon Thomas's enquiry last month about the validity of the stickers in good faith, said Mr Pullinger.

But he admitted that if they had responded with more clarity they would not be the current difficulties.

It is the latest twist in the long running saga over the Welsh "tick box" on the census form.

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 could not term themselves "Welsh".

Forms returned with the stickers - of which 200,000 have been produced by Plaid Cymru - will not be able to be processed either electronically or manually.

Mr Pullinger said forms including the stickers - which were not legal - would be looked at as they arrived.

But he said it would be difficult to make sure that the forms would be counted and advised people who had already sent in their census forms with stickers on to contact the ONS for new ones.

Plaid Cymru have responded by calling for the resignation of Len Cook the Director of the Office for National Statistics

"Plaid Cymru have dealt with this issue responsibly and constructively from the start he said but Mr Cook's attitude will only infuriate people and lead to census forms being binned," said party chief executive Karl Davies.

Phone lines

The row has developed as the Office for National Statistics installed extra staff and phone lines to cope with an avalanche of queries ahead of census day on Sunday.

Another group of protesters are posting their uncompleted forms in a coffin which are due to be delivered to the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay on Sunday.

Ceredigion MP Simon Thomas has also written to Chancellor Gordon Brown urging him to intervene.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that more than 300,000 completed Welsh census forms have already been completed and posted ahead of the official census day this weekend.

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See also:

05 Jan 01 | Wales
Census chief says sorry
16 Dec 00 | Wales
Welsh MPs join census campaign
11 Sep 00 | Wales
Welsh equality row over census
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