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Television (Wales)

Volume 895: debated on Thursday 17 July 1975

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions he is making for implementing the decision to use the fourth television channel as a national channel in Wales.

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the report of the committee appointed following publication of the Crawford Report to consider the use of the fourth television channel in Wales.

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the recent Government review of public expenditure in any way affects the Government's laws for implementing the recommendations of the Crawford Committee on broadcasting.

The working party whose terms of reference were announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales on 16th January—[Vol. 884, c. 176.]—has just reported. We shall make a further statement when there has been an opportunity of studying the working party's report.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the power of English television which fills almost every Welsh home imperils the very existence of the Welsh language? Does he recognise that it is as important to defend our language, which is part of our national culture, as it is to defend our physical existence? Will the Government look on this as a matter of the defence of a nation, of a national life and a national culture? Does the Minister realise that our language is a vehicle of our culture, and will the Government be prepared to spend as much on this kind of defence as they spend on arms?

We accept the importance of the Welsh langauge to the preservation of the culture of Wales and we have taken a decision to help in this way if we can. We are waiting for the technical report from the working party and will announce our decision as soon as possible.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the survival and growth of the Welsh language is of fundamental importance to many people in Wales and that pleas on its behalf should not be regarded as a case of special pleading? Does he realise that a Welsh language television service would be of prime importance to the survival of the language, and that time is desperately short? Will he devote himself, despite his other heavy commitments, to achieving very quickly an effective Welsh language service on the fourth channel?

Policy decisions are not for me, although I answer for them in the House. I am sure my right hon. Friends will deal with this matter as expeditiously as possible.

Will the hon. Gentleman convey to those who do take the policy decisions in this matter that there is a desire in Wales among Welsh speaking and non-Welsh speaking people to see this development in order to give fair play to both languages? Can he assure us that current cut-backs in expenditure which may be contemplated will not hit this sort of project?

I think the hon. Gentleman must await the announcement, but what has been said in the past ought to reassure him.