New Assembly inquiry into supporting and promoting the Welsh language
A new major inquiry by a National Assembly committee will look at what is being done to support and promote the use of the Welsh language.
As part of its inquiry, the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee will undertake post-legislative scrutiny of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. This will include assessing the implementation of the legislation, its impact and effectiveness.
The inquiry will provide an opportunity to assess the Welsh Government’s wider policy decisions as a result of introducing the 2011 Measure, specifically around the Welsh language standards.
The Committee will also consider the wider international context, particularly where there are examples of legislation and language planning that support minority languages.
The Welsh Language Measure was a significant shift in approach to language planning in Wales.
The Welsh Government abolished the then Welsh Language Board, bringing many of the promotional activities for the language within the Welsh Government, and set up the Welsh Language Commissioner in its place.
The principal aim of the Commissioner was to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language. This would be done in the main by imposing language duties, known as ‘standards’, on organizations, establishing rights for Welsh speakers.
The Measure also gave the Welsh language official status in Wales, meaning that Welsh should be treated no less favourably than the English language..
In August 2017, after a period of consultation, the Welsh Government published its White Paper – Striking the right balance: proposals for a Welsh Language Bill.
Some of the most significant proposals include:
- Abolishing the Welsh Language Commissioner and establishing a single main body – The Welsh Language Commission - to promote the language and regulate standards.
- Transfer budgets and resources for other specified promotion work currently undertaken by Welsh Government to the new Commission.
- Retain Welsh language standards, but only as they apply to services.
- Only serious complaints to be investigated by the Welsh Language Commission.
- The Welsh Government to have responsibility for making and imposing standards.
“Promotion and growth in the use of the Welsh language is a key part of the Welsh Government’s manifesto,” said Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.
“It has set bold targets of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050, almost double the current number.
“We will be examining in detail the impact and benefits of the Welsh Language Measure from 2011, before considering how legislation and policy could be improved to provide further support.
“We also intend to take an international point of view on protection and promotion of minority languages in other countries.
“I would ask anyone who has an interest in the Welsh language to contribute to our inquiry.”
A public consultation will be open until 14 September 2018. Anyone wishing to contribute should first visit the Committee’s web pages for more information.
The terms of reference for the inquiry are as follows:
Post legislative scrutiny of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 - to assess the perceived successes and limitations of the legislation, and the impact and effectiveness of Welsh Language standards in improving and increasing access to Welsh language services.
To assess whether the legislative framework supports or limits Welsh language promotion and its use.
An international perspective - gathering evidence on legislation to protect and promote minority language planning in other countries.