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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Welsh equality row over census
Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan Wyn Jones has called for forms to be amended
Prime Minister Tony Blair has been urged to step into a deepening equality row over census forms in Wales.

Plaid Cymru president Ieuan Wyn Jones has written to Mr Blair seeking a pledge from the government to make changes to the recently published census forms so that Welsh can be added as an ethnic group in Wales.

"People are appalled that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is refusing to change its mind on the issue," said Mr Jones.


Tony Blair should understand the strength of feeling on this issue

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid Cymru president
"I think Tony Blair should intervene and sort this out.

"As there is to be a 'tick box' for the Irish and Scots, people simply cannot understand why there cannot be one for Wales.

"This is grossly discriminatory and unfair."

The ONS confirmed to News Online Wales that people in Scotland will have a special "tick box" on their census forms allowing them to identify themselves as Scottish.

But in Wales, the only tick boxes are for "British", "Irish" or "Other".

There have been widespread complaints in Wales that this means that the Welsh are being denied the right enjoyed by the Scots to classify themselves according to their country.

For 'Welsh' read 'Other'.

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

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.

However, in response to the complaints, a spokesman for the ONS said Welsh people could tick the box marked "Other" and then write in that they were Welsh. They would then be counted as Welsh in the census returns.

'Counted as Welsh'

"If people choose to define their ethnicity as 'Welsh' they can do so via the write-in boxes, an ONS statement read.

"ONS has made it very clear that if people tell us they are Welsh they will be counted as Welsh and has said that it will publish the results.

"ONS also recognises that some people will want to define their ethnicity as 'Black Welsh', 'Asian Welsh' or any other Welsh background; this is also possible via the write-in categories."

The ONS said it was too late to change the boxes for the census, which is due to take place next year.

However, Ieuan Wyn Jones said it would not take much for Parliament to correct the situation.

'Strength of feeling'

He added that tens of thousands of people had already signed petitions demanding the change, and many local authorities in Wales were joining the campaign.

"Tony Blair should understand the strength of feeling on this issue. I hope that it will be sorted out quickly."

Mr Jones also said that he would be raising the matter in the National Assembly.

"We must convince the ONS of the strength of feeling in Wales, and this should be an all party campaign from now on," he added.

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