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Leader of the House

Volume 580: debated on Thursday 8 May 2014

The Leader of the House was asked—

Welsh Language

Diolch—thank you. Members can use Welsh in the proceedings of the House in short extracts, but a translation for the benefit of non-Welsh speakers should be provided. The House agreed in 2001 to the recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure that witnesses before Select Committees should be able to give evidence in Welsh.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. On the civil service, Welsh-language legislation applies to every aspect of the work of the House, so will he reassure me that every Department is committed to working in a way that fully recognises its legal obligations in compliance with the Welsh Language Act 1993?

I commend the hon. Gentleman for the work he does in promoting the Welsh language. I know that he recently held an important Westminster Hall debate on Welsh identity and, of course, the language played an important part in that debate. The Government are indeed committed to the Welsh language and are fully committed to providing Government services in the Welsh language where there is demand for them.

The use of the Welsh language is still treated as though it is secondary to that of English, inevitably. Sensible arrangements can be made. Other Parliaments deal with half a dozen languages. Should we not look to the Welsh parliamentary party to do the same work it did brilliantly 18 years ago and suggest practical arrangements of reasonable value that will allow anyone who wishes to make a speech in the Welsh language in this Chamber or elsewhere when Welsh business is being discussed to do so?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. I have set out ways in which Welsh is provided for in Select Committees. The impact assessment for the Wales Bill was also translated into Welsh, so action is being taken where it can be.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. I support the comments of the hon. Members for Newport West (Paul Flynn) and for Montgomeryshire (Glyn Davies). About half of those who took part in yesterday’s Welsh Grand Committee debate on the Budget were fluent, first-language Welsh speakers. Surely the sittings of the Welsh Affairs Committee and the Welsh Grand Committee should be held bilingually, thereby making Welsh an official language of this Parliament, the same as English and Norman French.

I certainly welcome opportunities for debates on the subject of Wales and, of course, the Wales Bill has provided such an opportunity. I am also very pleased that in the past the Backbench Business Committee has been able to provide time to debate Welsh matters, and I hope that will continue.