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Census: Ulster-Scots

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the forthcoming test census in England organised by the Office for National Statistics, why the question about ethnic groups did not include Ulster-Scots; and why it included Northern Irish. [HL211]

The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Lord Laird dated 28 November 2006.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking why the question about ethnic groups in the 2007 census test in England does not include Ulster-Scots; and why it included Northern Irish. I am replying in her absence. [HL211]

The question asking for national identity in England includes a category for “Northern Irish” to reflect user requirements identified through extensive consultation. The question also includes categories for “English”, “Welsh”, “Scottish” and “Irish”. A similar demand for the recognition of “Ulster-Scots” as an identity/ethnicity category in England did not emerge from the consultation and consequently the 2007 test question in England does not include a specific category, though people who wish to identify themselves in this way can do so through the write-in response option.

The prime purposes of the 2007 census test is to assess the effect on response of posting out census forms and including a question on income, and to assess the feasibility of the major innovations in the proposed 2011 census design. The topics and questions for the test were selected on the basis of widespread consultation since the 2001 census involving local authorities, central government departments and other users of census data across the UK, but are not necessarily those that will be included in the census in 2011. The programme of consultation and testing is continuing and in particular a further consultation exercise on the ethnicity, identity, language and religion questions will be launched shortly.

It is important to note that space constraints on the census questionnaire will limit the number of response categories that can be used for each question.

It will not be possible to confirm what questions are to be included in the 2011 census until the consultation and testing programme is complete and formal approval is given by Parliament in 2010.

A White Paper setting out the Government's proposals for the 2011 census in England and Wales is scheduled to be published in autumn 2008.