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Welsh Language

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 3 December 2015

Well, what can I say, except that we are committed to the Welsh language? We are committed to providing Government services in the Welsh language, and we are firmly committed to S4C.

Does my hon. Friend agree that S4C plays a key role in promoting the Welsh language in Wales? Does he understand that the widespread disappointment that people in Wales feel about the DCMS contribution was significantly reduced in the autumn statement?

I am afraid that my glass is half full on this one. We secured £83 million of funding for S4C in 2012-13, and that funding remained broadly stable for the lifetime of that Parliament. Even now, if we take into account the contribution made by BBC News, S4C will receive a guaranteed income of some £90 million a year. That is guaranteed income, which any other media company—obviously, apart from the BBC—would cry out for.

But S4C is the only Welsh language channel. It is a national treasure for the United Kingdom. If the Government really have a commitment to the Welsh language, they need to stop cutting the income of the only Welsh language TV channel that we have. Will the Minister please reconsider?

S4C was brought in by a Conservative Government. S4C has been supported by Conservative Government. S4C will continue to be supported by a Conservative Government; but unfortunately, we have had to make difficult decisions about funding across all areas of Government spending, because of the catastrophic mess left by the Labour Government.

In its general election manifesto, the Conservative party promised to safeguard the funding of S4C; yet last week, the comprehensive spending review outlined a further cut of 26% in the UK Government’s support for S4C. Is the Minister aware of his Welsh history and what happened the last time the Tories broke their promise in relation to S4C? Will he now consider the need to ensure that S4C is adequately resourced?

As I keep repeating, S4C is adequately funded. It is extremely generously funded. It is generously supported by the BBC. It will continue to receive a generous grant from my Department. It is more generously funded than any other media organisation in terms of the number of viewers that it receives.