Language Campaigners' Disappointment at Assembly Failure to Get Further Bilingualism Power

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

Language Campaigners' Disappointment at Assembly Failure to Get Further Bilingualism Power


Byline: David Williamson

WELSH language campaigners last night expressed disappointment after it was revealed the Assembly will not gain powers to force organisations receiving less than pounds 400,000 in public funds to embrace bilingualism.

But the CBI business group said it was relieved to learn the Assembly Government had abandoned proposals which would have affected groups getting pounds 200,000-plus.

The changes to the Assembly's request for powers through a proposed Legislative Competence Order (LCO) follow recommendations by MPs on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. Menna Machreth, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said: "The Wales Office and Welsh Assembly Government have decided to block the people of Wales from gaining access to the Welsh language.

What difference will this measure do to the day-to-day lives of people in Wales? The Wales Office and Assembly Government prefer to please large corporations and anti-Welsh elements within the Labour Party instead of making a real difference to the Welsh language's status in Wales." However, David Rosser, director of CBI Wales, said: "Whilst it is disappointing that the Welsh Assembly Government continues to pursue a legislative approach to the private sector, at a time when Google, Orange and John Lewis show that working with business can be effective, we do welcome the changes to the draft Welsh language LCO. The CBI called for any measures affecting business to be reasonable and practical and it is significant that this has now been written onto the face of the LCO.

"Clarification that companies in receipt of one-off grants for investment will not be covered by legislation was also demanded by business and has now been forthcoming.

And narrowing the scope of the sectors to remove electricity and gas production, and retailers, will avoid increasing costs which would have been passed onto these companies' Welsh customers."

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said the new proposed LCO was a "commonsense approach to safeguarding and promoting the Welsh language". …

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