Kirsty Williams pressed Carwyn Jones in First Minister’s Questions yesterday to use the last opportunity available to amend the Welsh Language Measure to deliver Welsh official status, a goal long sought by Welsh language campaigners.
She said: “Welsh Liberal Democrats are tabling amendments to the Welsh language Measure that will ensure Welsh is given an unconditional declaration of official status.
“Today, I asked the First Minister if Labour and Plaid Cymru Ministers will work with the Welsh Liberal Democrats to agree amendments that will put right the wrong done to the Welsh language over the past centuries.
“Despite all the talk over the years and decades, you would scarcely credit it that it is a Plaid Cymru minister that has made such a dog’s dinner of the Welsh Language Measure and we could actually end up with a worse situation that we currently have. I urge the Government, even at this late stage, to listen to the campaigners and give Welsh official language status, as they promised they would in the Labour-Plaid coalition agreement.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be submitting amendments on the following topics:
• Official Status: The measure is very complex. It sets out several areas where the official status of the language is guaranteed. Nevertheless, we believe that there is a danger in this approach. By setting out in such detail the circumstances in which Welsh is equal, it inevitably implies that anything not included on the list does not have equal status. Our amendment is simple and clear. It is directly based on the committee’s report and previous work, including a specific proposed amendment. We believe that the inclusion of a clear, unambiguous statement of official status is an important symbolic action. Without that, the whole proposed Measure is undermined.
• The Advisory Panel: The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that the advisory panel should be representative of Wales and therefore larger than the measure allows.
• Commissioner’s Budget: Welsh Liberal Democrat amendments will allow greater scrutiny of the budget by the Assembly.
• Consultation: Welsh Liberal Democrat amendments will mean that the Minister cannot impose standards on the Commissioner without consultation. It is a principle of the Welsh Liberal Democrat amendments that the Commissioner should be arms length from the Minister, in order to ensure the Commissioner’s independence.
• Compensation: Welsh Liberal Democrat amendments will allow recompense for people who are punished financially by the failure of an organisation to comply with a standard.
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