I respect the passion of my hon. Friends from Cornwall in their campaign for Cornish national identity. However, the Government will be guided by the ONS’s recommendations to the Government and Parliament regarding particular questions in the next census. Everyone who wishes to identify their chosen national identity will be able to do so in the 2021 census.
I thank the Minister for his response, but the Cornish continue to be the only UK national minority unable to identify themselves in the census by way of a tick box. Does the Minister agree that this falls short of equality of recognition for the Cornish?
Ultimately, as I have just said, the Government will be guided by the ONS’s recommendations, and ultimately the final questions will be decided by this House.
Does the Minister agree that while it is important that all recognised national minorities should receive their place in the census, we do need to be very careful that we do not put forward nominations for what are not recognised national minorities and be accused of social engineering?
When filling in the census, particularly given the fact that we have moved mostly to online filling in, everyone will be able to use either one of the tick boxes or the search and type facility for common responses that people may wish to use. Everyone will be able to fill it in in the way they wish and to identify their own identity. As I say, the Government will be guided by the ONS’s recommendations about what should be the suggested ones in the form of tick boxes.
I note the Minister’s response about the online versions, but people filling in the paper version, particularly religious minorities, will not be prompted what to fill in—for example, the Jain community. Will he do everything he can to make sure that those from religious communities can fill in their religion?
I recognise the demands that have been made about a Jain religion tick box, but it is worth noting that the religion question is a voluntary one. Again, there is an opportunity to put in on the paper form what religious identity people have. Most people use that seriously, but as many of us will know, some people decided to declare they were Jedis.