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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Equality row over census deepens
Crowd scene
To say they are Welsh, people will have to tick the box marked "Other"
Welsh local government leaders have called on the government to act on a growing equality row over the census for Wales.

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.

Tony Blair should understand the strength of feeling on this issue

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Plaid Cymru president

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 not proved good enough for protesters in Wales, and there have been growing calls for Welsh people to be given the same status as the Scots when the census is carried out next year.

Council leaders join campaign

The Welsh Local Government Association has now called on the Office for National Statistics to revise its plans for next year's census so that the form will include a Welsh tick-box.

Last week, Plaid Cymru president Ieuan Wyn Jones wrote to Mr Blair seeking a pledge from the government to make changes to the recently published census forms.

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

"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."

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.

"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.

MP Simon Thomas
MP Simon Thomas is protesting against the situation
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.

This week, the Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, Simon Thomas, wrote to the chief executives of every local authority and all town and community councils in Wales.

He is asking for support to pressurise the government to change the census forms.

Gwynedd council has already described the ONS position as an "insult" to Wales.

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11 Sep 00 | Wales
Welsh equality row over census
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