A cross-party committee demanded yesterday that improvements need to be made to the new Welsh language measure to give Welsh official status in Wales.
In their 188 page report, the Welsh assembly legislation committee highlighted a series of amendments that they would like to see implemented, including;
“- a clear statement in section one of the Measure clearly stating that English
and Welsh are the official languages of Wales;
– a mechanism contained in the Measure whereby the Welsh Language Commissioner is nominated by the First Minister and then approved by the National Assembly; – that the Minister review the provisions in the Measure that exert some form of Ministerial control over the Welsh Language Commissioner;
that the budget for regulating and promoting the Welsh Language should be
subject to annual scrutiny by an Assembly committee;
– that members of the Advisory Panel should be nominated by Welsh Ministers and then approved by the National Assembly;
– there should be a duty to consult organisations on standards regulations;
– the Language Commissioner must also consult with the public when carrying out a standards investigation;
– that for the sake of clarity and accuracy, and in addition to the powers of
the Language Commissioner, that any instances concerning an individual’s freedom to use Welsh should be dealt with by current race relations and equality legislation.”
Committee Chair Val Lloyd AM said:
“We support the need for legislation to update and modernise the existing
framework of Welsh Language legislation,”
“In so doing, we have noted the support for such an approach from consultees, although we recognise that for many, there are aspects of the legislation which need improving or changing.
“In our view there is a clear statement of principle missing from the Measure,”
Mrs Lloyd added;
“We believe that an overarching statement needs to be incorporated within the measure clearly stating that the purpose of the legislation is to promote and develop the Welsh language, consistent with retaining the support and goodwill of non-Welsh speaker.”
Under existing legislation, Welsh does not have equal and official language
status (with English). Earlier this year, a number of organisations, including
Cymdeithas Iaith Gymraeg and Friends of the Earth Cymru, wrote an open letter to the Welsh Assembly saying that the proposed language measure did not comply with the coalition government’s One Wales agreement, because the welsh language was still the poor relation of English in Wales. The letter called on the Welsh government to make an unequivocal statement in the Measure about giving welsh official language status.
Following the publication of the report, even the Tory party in Wales have said they are supportive of the recommendations, saying:
“…giving welsh official language status would be a hugely symbolic move which would also make it the cornerstone of future legislation.”
It seems that after hundreds of years of oppression, the Welsh language is
finally being given some of the true respect it deserves. If the recommendations are put in place it will mean a big step forward in protecting the language for future generations.
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary
Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information