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House of Commons Hansard
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Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
06 March 2007
Volume 457
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To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consideration her Department gave to the application on behalf of the Cornish for inclusion in the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. [123757]

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The United Kingdom ratified the Framework Convention on the understanding that it would be applied with reference to “racial groups” within the meaning of Section 3(1) of the Race Relations Act 1976, which is to say any groups defined by “colour, race, nationality or national or ethnic origins”. For the purposes of the Framework Convention it would of course also be necessary for the group to be a minority in the UK.

Since the United Kingdom Government ratified the Framework Convention, a number of Cornish organisations and individuals have made representations to the Government arguing that the Cornish should be considered within the scope of the Framework Convention’s application in the United Kingdom. The Government therefore included Cornish organisations in its consultation prior to the preparation of this 2nd report under the Framework Convention. It also circulated the draft report to a number of Cornish organisations and individuals which had approached the Government on the issue since then. A number of these organisations and individuals submitted comments on the draft report. The Government have considered the arguments put forward for the inclusion, but has not been convinced that a move away from the definition of racial group in Section 3(1) of the Race Relations Act 1976 can be justified. The Government consider that the UK’s enormous diversity, embracing individuals of many different (and sometimes multiple) ethnic, national, cultural and faith identities is a matter for celebration and a source of national strength. The Government are very much aware of the strength of feeling about Cornwall’s separate identity and distinctiveness. The fact that some groups may not meet the definition of racial group from the Race Relations Act 1976 has not been a barrier to the UK’s many communities being able to maintain and celebrate their distinct identities.