The Cornish People

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 5th June 2019.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

What steps the Government are taking to support the recognition in 2014 under the Council of Europe framework convention for the protection of national minorities of the Cornish people as a national minority in the UK.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The Government are committed to meeting the requirement of the framework convention for the protection of national minorities in respect of Cornish populations. We work with Cornwall Council to encourage the promotion of Cornish culture, and we have committed £100,000 over two years to the council to support this.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

I thank the Minister for his answer. In 2014, when the decision was made by the Council of Europe, the Government welcomed the decision and said that this would give the Cornish the same recognition as the other Celtic parts of the UK. Does the Minister share my view that, to keep this commitment, the Cornish should be allowed to identify in the forthcoming census as Cornish by way of a tick-box, just as the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish will be able to do?

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I always welcome the determination shown by my hon. Friend to be a strong Cornish voice for Cornwall in the Chamber and to put the county first on the agenda. The Government will be guided by the recommendation of the Office for National Statistics to the Government and Parliament about the demand for particular questions when we lay the census orders before Parliament later this year.

Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

One of the best ways in which the Department could recognise Cornish minority status is to drop the ludicrous suggestion of having a Cornwall-Devon boundary review. Will the Minister commit to giving the Cornish the same rights as the Welsh and the Scots?

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The boundary review is independent, and in due course we will bring the orders before the House so that it can make a decision.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I rise with a degree of uncertainty, because ordinarily I seek to accommodate the hon. Lady, but the question has not been broadened by the character and contents of the answer, and I gently point out that Glasgow Central is a considerable distance from Cornwall. If she is sufficiently dextrous and can shoehorn an inquiry on Cornwall into a question about Cornwall that would be helpful.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your indulgence. Protection of the Cornish language is important, but there is no right, as there is for the Welsh, to write to the UK Government in Cornish, or to write to the UK Government in Gaelic and receive a response in that language. Would the Minister consider a UK language protection Bill that would protect Cornish and Scots Gaelic in the same way that Welsh is protected?

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

We can see that Celtic roots are strong, both in Cornwall and in Scotland, and that there is a link between them. We are always keen to help to promote the culture of these isles, and the different languages that are spoken across them are part of our vibrant United Kingdom. The Cabinet is always open to suggestions about how we can better do that, as the Department is keen to promote our Union.