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Census

Volume 716: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of respondents selected Irish as their ethnic group in the 2001 census; why Irish is the only white ethnic group specifically named on the proposed 2011 census form other than those of the home countries/British and Gypsies or Irish travellers; and whether they will change the proposed form to allow ethnic Irish respondents to inscribe “Irish” in “Any other White background” like other European Union nationals. [HL743]

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for Office for National Statistics, to Lord Laird, dated 2010.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking (a) what percentage of respondents selected Irish as their ethnic group in the 2001 census; (b) why Irish is the only white ethnic group specifically named on the proposed 2011 census form other than those of the home countries/British and Gypsies or Irish travellers; and (c) whether there will be a change to the proposed form to allow ethnic Irish respondents to inscribe “Irish” in “Any other White background” like other European Union nationals. (HL743)

(a) The percentage of all respondents who selected Irish as their ethnic group in the 2001 census in England and Wales was 1.23 per cent.

(b) Consultation on the 2011 census content identified a strong need for comparison of ethnic group statistics with the 2001 census. Consultation also showed that statistics users were happy with the ethnic populations measured in the 2001 census. The Office for National Statistics therefore recommended that the 2001 categories should all be retained in the 2011 census. A particular case had been made for the inclusion of an Irish category in the 2001 census by representatives of the Irish community in Britain, and others, and thus this response category has been retained. However, in a prioritisation exercise carried out to decide if any additional categories should be included in the 2011 census, of the several considered no other category within the “White” ethnic group except “Gypsy or Irish Traveller” scored sufficiently high enough. Where it has been possible, the existing categories have been cognitively tested to ensure that the question is still acceptable.

(c) The Census Order, which details the questions to be asked in the census, was debated in the House of Lords on 3 December, and Parliament has now approved the order. However, if for any reason, respondents prefer not to tick the “Irish” box but to write in “Irish” under “Any other ethnic White background”, they can do so.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Crawley on 16 December 2009 (WA 231), why the term “mixed British” was not considered for use in the “mixed/multiple ethnic groups” category in the ethnic group census question; and what percentage of responses to national identity or ethnic group questions where “tick one” or “choose all” options were provided in the 2007 test census were incorrect or inadequate. [HL1060]

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for Office for National Statistics, to Lord Laird, dated January 2010.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions asking (a) why the term “mixed British” was not considered for use in the mixed/multiple ethnic groups' category in the ethnic group census question; and (b) what percentage of responses to national identity or ethnic group questions where “tick one” or “choose all” options were provided in the 2007 test census were incorrect or inadequate. (HL1060)

(a) Research prior to the 2001 census showed that people who were not from “White” ethnic backgrounds but who were born and have been living in the UK for two or more generations want to acknowledge a British identity along with their ethnic group. Thus the “Black” and “Asian” groups incorporate “British” in their titles. However, it was not considered helpful to introduce the term “British” in the “Mixed/multiple” group as the category “Mixed British” could be interpreted as referring to a mix of White British identities, such as English/Scottish.

(b) The instruction in the 2007 test ethnic group question was to “Choose one section from A to E, then tick the box to show your ethnic group”. The percentage of responses that were incorrectly “multi-ticked” was 0.7 per cent. Following the evaluation of the 2007 test, the ethnic group instruction has been changed to “Choose one section from A to E, then tick one box to best describe your ethnic group or background”. In the national identity question where the instruction was to “Tick all boxes that apply” the percentage of those who multi-ticked was 9.9 per cent.

Both the national identity and ethnic group questions are relatively subjective and, as such, there is no measure of “incorrect” response to the 2007 test. The proportions of respondents who did not answer these questions in the 2007 test were 1.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.

Further information on the evaluation of the 2007 test is available on the website http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-project/2007-test/index.html.