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Languages

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which languages are spoken in the United Kingdom; and what estimate he has made of the number of speakers of each. (202744)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated May 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking which languages are spoken in the United Kingdom; and what estimate he has made of the number of speakers of each. (202744)

According to the Labour Force Survey, in 2006, languages other than English were the first language spoken at home for six per cent of the UK population aged 16 and older. The available information on the languages spoken is as follows:

First language spoken at home other than English, UK population aged 16 and older, 2006

Percentage

Welsh

0.4

Ulster Scots/Ullans

0.1

Gaelic

<0.1

Any other

5.4

All other than English

6.0

Source:

Labour Force Survey.

UK censuses have also collected complete information on whether people understand, speak, read or write Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic (in the Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish censuses respectively). The latest information is available in 2001 Census outputs. However, apart from English and these UK languages, the UK statistical offices do not currently collect information on which languages are spoken in the UK.

The 2011 Censuses across the UK will contain new questions on language. Topic recommendations for the England and Wales Census will be contained within the White Paper for the 2011 Census, which will be published and laid before Parliament at the end of this year. Parliament will make the decision on the content of questions in the 2011 Census in 2010.