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Help us make the case for a Cornish tickbox on the 2021 Census
The Government White Paper “Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales” does not include support for a Cornish tick-box. However, this Autumn, a statutory order will be laid before both Houses of Parliament. It will set out the content of the 2021 census and, very importantly, this order can be amended by the UK Government, the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

We therefore need to start building a massive groundswell of support for a Cornish tick-box and to lobby Government Ministers and MPs to treat the Cornish in the same manner “as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

Please write to the interim Minister for the Constitution Kevin Foster and ask him to take the lead in bringing forward a proposal for a Cornish tick-box in the next census. His address is: Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall, London SW1A 2AS and the email for the Cabinet Office is:

Please also write to your local MP on this matter. The address for all MPs is:

House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Email addresses can be found from

If you live outside Cornwall, it would be especially helpful if you could write to your MP and show parliamentarians across the UK that there is a very wide demand for a Cornish tick-box.

Possible content for your letter

• The White Paper, based on recommendations from the Office of National Statistics, states that the “ONS fully recognises the need of the Cornish community for data on the socio-economic, educational, health and housing conditions of those who identify as Cornish” (para 3.116). But in failing to support the inclusion of a Cornish tick-box on the 2021 census, they undermine their own stated commitment to “those who identify as Cornish.”

• In April 2014, the Cornish people were recognised as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. This was a landmark decision by the UK Government and the official announcement stated that “the decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

• It is illogical and wrong that the Cornish would be the only UK national minority to be denied a tick-box in the upcoming census, and to have to “write-in” their national identity.

• If the next census (as in 2011) contains tick-boxes for British, English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish – but not Cornish – there will be significant doubts about the veracity of the data collected on the Cornish. With the Cornish having to rely on a “write-in” option – however energetically that option may be promoted – there will still undoubtedly be a significant undercount in comparison to those groups who have been afforded a tick-box, such as “the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

• There was no tick-box for Welsh on the 2001 census and 14% of the population of Wales “wrote-in” Welsh. Ten years later, with a tick-box, 66% of the population identified as Welsh. In 2011, there was no tick-box for Cornish on the census but 13.8% of the population of Cornwall “wrote-in” Cornish. As shown in Wales, a tick-box is needed to achieve a full count of Cornish people across Cornwall, England and Wales.

• The failure to properly collect data about the Cornish would make it difficult for the UK Government, plus other public bodies such as Cornwall Council and the National Health Service, to meet their obligations under the Framework Convention, and to devise appropriate policy solutions for this national minority.

• The White Paper states that the ONS considers the need for a Cornish tick-box to be “very localised and not strong enough to justify its inclusion in the nationwide census” (para 3.120). But how can the ONS consider the Cornish to represent a localised scenario, and yet do not take a similar view in relation to other groups principally associated with a specific historic territory, such as the Welsh. In the 2011 census, 16.9% of people who identified as Welsh were resident outside of Wales, while 12.3% of people who identified as Cornish were resident outside of Cornwall. However, Cornish people living outside of Cornwall in 2011 would have been less likely to have seen the publicity materials promoting the “write-in” option and remain significantly under-recorded.

• The tick-box issue is one of great significance to Cornish people and their public representatives. There was near-unanimous support for a cross-party motion, seeking a tick-box, which was tabled at a meeting of Cornwall Council in January 2019. Only one member voted against the motion and there was just a single abstention.

Thank you in advance for your support.

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Published on 24th April 2019.

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