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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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Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 11:27 GMT
Census review 'too costly'
Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan says new census forms would cost too much
An attempt to change the 2001 census forms to allow people to class themselves as Welsh would be too expensive, the National Assembly has been told.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Boycott condemned

Commenting on the question of a boycott of the census in protest, he said this would have severe consequences.

"If the census in Wales under-represented the population then we would get less money. Individual local authorities will end up getting less money as well.

"If 5% of the people fail to fill in the census forms in a particular part of Wales on conscientious objection grounds, then that part of Wales will have an under-recorded population, and therefore would be under-recorded in their allocation of resources for schools and the health service.

"Nothing could be a greater disaster - however strong people's feelings are," he said.

Protests are likely to continue, but unless either the Assembly or the Treasury decides to foot the bill, it is likely the census form for Wales will stay as it is.

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11 Sep 00 | Wales
Welsh equality row over census
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