Proposal to transfer responsibilities of Literature Wales to Welsh Books Council needs further analysis, says National Assembly committee
A proposal to transfer some of the responsibilities of Literature Wales to the Welsh Books Council should not go ahead without further critical analysis of the benefits and implications, according to a National Assembly committee.
The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee has been examining the findings of an independent review into support for publishing and literature in Wales, led by Professor Medwin Hughes.
While the Committee did not conduct a forensic examination of all of the panel's findings, it had become increasingly concerned at the way in which the debate around the review has overshadowed important issues within the sector that remain to be addressed.
The Committee concluded that the panel's analysis of the decline in publishing in Wales is insufficient. This absence of analysis raises more general concerns about the evidence base for the panel's recommendations.
The Committee was also not convinced that the practicalities and costs of transferring functions from Literature Wales to the Welsh Books Council have been properly thought through or that the Welsh Books Council is currently best placed to take on these new responsibilities.
In recognising that Literature Wales faces a number of challenges, committee members found little evidence to suggest the organisation was unfit to receive public funding or was in danger of collapse, as the independent review had suggested.
"The Committee is uncomfortable at the way in which the debate around this review and the literature sector in Wales has been framed, and is not convinced by some of the evidence which led to the panel's recommendations," said Bethan Sayed, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communcations Committee.
"We believe that the proposal to transfer powers and responsibilities from Literature Wales to the Welsh Book Council is premature and needs further analysis.
"We would also like to see a more open and transparent approach from the Welsh Government regarding appointed members of advisory panels.
"We intend to give further consideration to these issues in a future inquiry."
The Committee makes three recommendations in its report. These are:
That the Welsh Government should publish all of the documents set out in paragraph 49 of the report and the minutes of the independent panel's meetings;
That the Welsh Government adopts in future an open and transparent method for appointing members of advisory panels and similar bodies, where a full public appointment process is not warranted; and
That the panel's proposals to transfer functions from Literature Wales to the Welsh Books Council should not be taken forward without additional critical analysis and consideration.
More information about the independent review into support for publishing and literature in Wales can be found here.