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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

News on the Welsh Language

It is the question that has been on everybody's lips for the last 16 months, when will the Welsh Language Legislative Competence Order be published? It is not just the opposition who have been frustrated by the lack of news, Plaid Cymru Ministers have also struggled with this process and have been positively outraged at the hurdles they have had to jump to meet the One Wales Government commitment to deliver on this piece of legislation.

The nearest we have come to a date was during the debate on the Queen's Speech last week when the Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy told the Assembly:

With regard to the Welsh-language LCO, that came to us about a month ago. It has now completed its passage, so to speak, through Whitehall departments, and it has now returned to my office. I hope that, in the new year that we will be in a position, jointly, to see that published. Again, there are issues that require careful examination, and I know that the Welsh Assembly Government has looked in detail at its wording and the details behind it. It is a work in progress.

A question to the Counsel General later that afternoon got us no further. Now however, we have a date but that does not seem to have emerged from any formal announcement by the Welsh Assembly Government. It appeared on an e-mail received by all Assembly Members earlier today from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.

The Welsh Language Society are to hold a New Year's Rally at 2pm on Saturday 10th January. They tell us that this rally has been timed to coincide with the publication of the Legislative Competence Order for the Welsh Language:

The purpose of the rally is to highlight the principle that all legislative powers for the Welsh Language are transferred to the Welsh Assembly, and that we the people of Wales are responsible for our own comprehensive language measure that will ensure linguistic rights, equal status and a language commissioner that will allow Wales to develop into a fair and bilingual country.

Fair enough, but why has the Minister chosen this route to announce the fact that agreement has at last been reached? Why has the date been e-mailed to Assembly Members during recess when we are not in a position to scrutinise the Minister and why has it come from a third party?
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