Too early to tell if Welsh language legislation is sufficient to support 1 million Welsh speakers target
It's too soon to determine if the Welsh Language Measure is sufficient to support the Welsh Government's aim of reaching 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050, says a report by the National Assembly's Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee.
However, the committee also concludes that there is no need for new legislation at this time and recommends that the 2011 Measure be reviewed in the next Assembly.
The Committee's report follows its inquiry into Supporting and Promoting the Welsh Language which aimed to carry out post-legislative scrutiny of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. It assessed the perceived successes and limitations of the legislation and the impact and effectiveness of the Welsh Language Standards in increasing access to Welsh language services.
The Committee also considered the effectiveness of the complaints procedures, responsibility for promoting the Welsh language and took evidence on international comparisons and perspectives.
In its findings, the Committee express frustration with the pace of the work to introduce the Welsh Language Standards in the sectors in which they are not already implemented. The Committee recommends that the Welsh Government publish a time table for implementing the standards in the remaining key sectors such as utility services, housing associations and transport bodies.
Bethan Sayed AM, Chair of the Committee, says:
"We heard evidence that the 2011 Measure is not perfect, and that elements within the legislation would benefit from updating. This is particularly true of the ongoing work to introduce the standards in the service sectors in which they are not currently implemented, such as Utilities, Housing Associations and Transport Bodies. We recommend that the Welsh Government and the Welsh Language Commissioner explore options to speed up the schedule in that regard.
"However, we were not convinced, on the whole, of the need for new legislation at this time, or that the evidence for it was particularly robust.
"Legislation should never be static, but should reflect the needs of society at that time, and therefore we recommend that this Committee, or an equivalent Committee, commit to reviewing the measure in the Sixth Assembly."
Promoting Welsh language
The Committee concluded that the overall responsibility for promoting the Welsh language sits with Welsh Government, and that more clarity is needed to define roles and responsibilities of the Welsh Government and the Welsh Language Commissioner in this area.
Also, the Committee recommends that the Welsh Government should implement a fully supported cohesive approach for the Welsh language across all policy areas, if they are to meet their target of 1 million Welsh speakers in the language strategy Cymraeg 2050: A Million Welsh Speakers.
Bethan Sayed AM says:
"As a Committee, we would like to see the Welsh Government adopt and develop a broader approach for the Welsh language across departments, ensuring all Government policies align and create the conditions to support the aims of Cymraeg 2050. An adequately resourced cohesive plan would have more oversight over government policies and activity relating to education, planning, economic development and rural development for instance.
"The evidence was clear that the key promotional functions sit with the Welsh Government. It is the Welsh Government after all that holds the key policy levers and resources in the areas required to increase the number of Welsh speakers and its use."
The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.