Englishman living in Scotland in Welsh census row

Iain Turnbull (pic: Iain Maciver)
Image caption Mr Turnbull said he is willing to go to jail if he cannot access a Welsh language form

An Englishman living on a Scottish island is refusing to complete the census unless he can do it in Welsh.

Iain Turnbull, 63, said the authorities have "threatened" him with a fine of £1,000, but he is willing to go to jail.

He has lived in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis for seven years.

The General Register Office for Scotland said that the statutory fine of £1,000 was to anyone who refused to complete the census form.

"It can be filled in Urdu, Punjabi, and even Tagalog, one of the dialects of the Philippines, but not in one of the native languages of Britain," said Mr Turnbull.

"I have sent the form back four times asking for a Welsh form."

Bilingual documents

Mr Turnbull was born in Norfolk but moved to Cardiff in 1970.

He also lived in Abertridwr and Newport in south Wales, before moving to Scotland in 1993, first to Edinburgh.

He said, not filling in the form in English, is a matter of principle.

"I'll go to jail if necessary," he added.

The census took place on 27 March.

The Welsh Language Act in 1993 put Welsh on an equal footing with English in Wales.

Public bodies were required to provide bilingual documents and signs.


A new Welsh law came into force in February with the aim of strengthening the Welsh Language Act.

It created the role of a Welsh Language Commissioner, and puts more power in the hands of the consumer.

Statistics from the 2001 census show 582,000 people in Wales - more than 20% of the population - speak Welsh.

The Welsh Language Board (WLB) said the total was up by 74,000 on the 1991 census.

It said the majority of Welsh speakers live in the north and west of the country.

The WLB also said there were a total of 1,000 Welsh speakers in Scotland and Northern Ireland and 110,000 in England.

A Welsh Government spokesman said there were 467 primary schools (33%) and 56 secondary schools (25%) in Wales that were classified as being Welsh-medium.

He added that all pupils up to the age of 16 received Welsh language education.

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