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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Census results 'defy tickbox row'
Census graphics
The population of Wales has grown by just under 90,000 in the past 20 years - a rise of 3% - according to the latest census figures.

Published on Monday, the figures for the 2001 census show the number of people living in Wales is 2,903,085 - which makes up 4.9% of the UK population.

Census campaign 2001
Census opposition grew in Wales
There are few surprises emerging from the statistics.

The 2001 Census was mired in wrangling over nationality after it emerged the questionnaire would include box for people to tick to describe themselves as Scottish or Irish but not Welsh.

In September 2000, Plaid Cymru backed a petition calling for the inclusion of a Welsh tickbox.

The motion said the census will be flawed as a result and attacks the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for "lack of consultation" and "arrogance" in refusing to amend the form.

But the ONS refused to include a Welsh tick box.

A spokesman said that if people want to class themselves as Welsh they could tick the box marked "Other" and then write "Welsh" alongside.

In October, Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan described the situation as "regrettable" that the case for tickbox had not been made earlier in the ONS discussions in Wales about its work.

And he appealed for people to fill in the form fully, however strongly they felt about a tickbox.

Despite this, Assembly Members unanimously backed a motion in December calling for a tickbox to be added.

In January 2001, the ONS began recruitment drive for nearly 4,000 census takers and team leaders to undertake the door-to-door required for the project.

But it needed a last-minute drive to find the staff needed for the April deadline after a series of public protests against the forms' format.

But the calls for people to boycott the statistics-gathering programme have not seriously damaged its effectiveness, according to Registrar General for England and Wales, Len Cook.

The first phase of results shows a breakdown of population by age, sex and nationality.

Among the most notable population fluctuations is the west Wales county of Ceredigion.

This is the site of Wales' greatest growth in population - a rise of 23.2%.

And Merthyr Tydfil in the south Wales Valleys has seen the biggest decline - losing 7.5% of its inhabitants.


I can safely say this is the best census result we could possibly achieve

Len Cook, Registrar General for England and Wales

"Overall, this is an excellent result in which we have total confidence," Mr Cook said on Monday.

"First and foremost I want to thank the people of Wales for the terrific way they responded to Census 2001.

"I can safely say this is the best census result we could possibly achieve."

The Office for National Statistics is now known as National Statistics.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Sian Lloyd
"There were no promises today that a tickbox would be added in future."

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See also:

23 Sep 00 | Plaid Cymru
06 Dec 00 | Wales
31 Oct 00 | Wales
15 Sep 00 | Wales
19 Feb 02 | Politics
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