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Welsh Language and Culture

Volume 596: debated on Thursday 4 June 2015

I congratulate my hon. Friend on increasing his majority as part of the best result for the Conservatives in Wales for more than 30 years. The House will want to take note of that truly fantastic achievement.

The Government are committed to supporting Welsh language and culture, in partnership with many bodies—including, of course, Welsh language programming with S4C.

The Minister will no doubt be aware that the National Eisteddfod is the biggest Welsh language cultural event in the world. Next year it is coming to Monmouthshire. Given that Welsh is derived from old Brythonic, which was spoken across the whole of what is now the United Kingdom, and that the Minister has mentioned his role in funding Welsh language television, will he or one of his colleagues consider an invitation to visit the National Eisteddfod in my constituency next year?

I gather that my hon. Friend is now one of seven Davieses sitting on our Benches, but for me he will always be primus inter Davieses. If I get an invitation from him, I shall certainly accept it.

Diolch yn fawr, Mr Llefarydd. The Minister’s Department provides nearly £7 million to S4C—down by 93% since 2010. When will the Government announce their financial intentions for S4C so that the channel can move ahead with commissioning?

I think I had better put that point in context. A large part of the funding for S4C—some £74 million—comes from the BBC, so S4C is extremely generously funded, and unlike many media organisations it has secure funding going forward. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) held the office of Secretary of State, she ensured that S4C was protected from any cuts when we had to make cuts.

Diolch yn fawr, Llywydd. The Government’s handling of the finance and governance of S4C during the previous Parliament was an unmitigated disaster. They failed to listen to any elected representatives in Wales, failed to listen to Wales’s excellent Welsh language campaigning organisations, and even failed to listen to the channel S4C itself. It could not possibly be any worse, so may we have a reassurance from the Minister that when it comes to renewing the BBC charter, proper measures will be put in place to protect Welsh language broadcasting this time around?

I can certainly give the hon. Lady that reassurance. As for “an unmitigated disaster”, all I have seen is that S4C has had secure funding and continues to go from strength to strength in producing international hits such as “Hinterland”, which I enjoyed hugely.