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Tight squeezes

Betsan Powys | 17:40 UK time, Wednesday, 9 September 2009

That space you may have been watching surrounding whether the official record of proceedings in plenary will be fully bilingual or not in the future has just got too crowded for updates.

The Welsh Language Board has clearly paid for and got its legal advice. Under the heading "Board demands answers" it has just rejected the Assembly's request to change the wording of its Welsh language scheme.

Bear in mind that crucial to this argument is whether the Assembly Commission had adopted the scheme for which Assembly had voted.

No, says the Commission.

Yes, says the Welsh Language Board and refer to a letter sent by the Presiding Officer back in October 2006 which the Board says makes clear that the Commission was adopting a Welsh language scheme under the guidelines set out in the Welsh Language Act.

I'll quote the Board's comments:

"In a letter to the Board on 28 August 2009, the Assembly assumed that there was ambiguity in the wording of section 4.8 of the scheme:

"A bilingual verbatim record is published of each Plenary meeting."

The Board believes that the wording is clear.

The Board states that the Assembly's Welsh Language Scheme is a statutory scheme, adopted by both the Commission and by the Assembly.

In its original letter to the Presiding Officer of the Assembly on 10 August, the Chief Executive of the Welsh Board, Meirion Prys Jones, asked a series of questions in order to determine the background and basis of the decision not to translate the record of Plenary meetings into Welsh. The Board is not satisfied it has received answers to all the questions. Therefore, the Board has requested that the Assembly provides comprehensive answers by 22 September 2009.

In cases where the Board has doubts that a public body has failed to comply with its language scheme, it has a statutory power, under the Welsh Language Act 1993, to hold an investigation. If the Board has not received a satisfactory response to all the questions asked by 22 September 2009, it will continue to consider the next steps on the basis of the information already made available".

That tight corner, out of which Sir Humphrey was still confident he could squeeze, just got a whole lot tighter.


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  • 1. At 6:32pm on 09 Sep 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 2. At 6:44pm on 09 Sep 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Tail wagging the dog once again, an insignificant tail though it should be docked by its political masters, a lesson for all. This particular dog should never have been allowed out without an effective political lead.

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  • 3. At 8:23pm on 09 Sep 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Surely the Assembly has the final say here, not the WLB.

    If for whatever reason the Assembly Commission with the agreement of the Assembly decides to change the rules.
    The Welsh Language Board, as both the servant of the Assembly and the Welsh people, has to fall into line.

    There is another point here, the attitude of the WLB, they are interfering more and more in our lives.
    The Board acts as the ultimate authority over every one and every thing in Wales.
    It is now refusing to accept instructions from our Government.

    The WLB Welsh Language Schemes go far beyond defining how public bodies should handle the language.

    The Schemes also cover how these bodies deal with Welsh Culture, and how the issue of grants must be dependant on showing how the project will benefit Welsh Culture.

    They have become a Thought Police controlling all of Welsh life.
    They are costing the Welsh people 100's of millions, serve no useful purpose - other than to create division - and all in the name of protecting the Welsh Language.

    It doesn't matter what stance anyone takes over the Language Legislation we cannot have a public body, effectively a QUANGO, overruling our Government.
    WAG has to stand its corner here.

    Time to reduce our public sector employment figures!!!

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  • 4. At 9:39pm on 09 Sep 2009, greyareas wrote:

    west-wales, this is not about the government vs the welsh language board. the assembly commission is not the government, but rather a committee of 5 responsible for ensuring services are provided for all assembly members. it has become quite apparent this week that many assembly members are not happy with this decision, and rightly so.

    it may well be true that some documents are translated unnecessarily (it may equally be true that some documents need not be written in any language). but this is a different matter. this is not just about translating two unimportant documents every week. the relatively regular use of welsh in the chamber is something i at least am proud of; it sets an example for increasing the use of welsh throughout wales. for assembly members to be able to discuss matters authoritatively in welsh with the use of the correct terminology etc, it is important that they are able to read previous discussions on similar issues in that same language. to stop creating these documents bilingually could have far-reaching negative effects on the welsh language, and i applaud the four assembly members for taking a stand on this.

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  • 5. At 10:34pm on 09 Sep 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    The phrase 'fiddling while Rome burns' comes to mind.

    The upshot of this is that in 5 years time all will be well with a fully bilingual assembly, but there will be no private sector business to employ any Welsh people, and the public sector schools and education system will not have any money to open new schools to teach children in the medium of Welsh.

    Still as long as the fat bottoms of Assembly Members are sat on £ 1,000 chairs and they can report that their diversity political correctness agenda boxes have been ticked then all is right with the world.

    Do these twits not realise, having looked at what Alex Salmond and the SNP are doing in Scotland that as soon as The Conservative and UNIONIST party wins the election and Dave the Rave wins there will be a bonfire of quangos, NGOs, third sector high-spending tosh and the earthquake will be of such seismic magnitude that the AMs will be too worry about covering their own backsides and keeping their jobs on the gravy train to be worrying about such incredibly trivial issues as this.

    The first sentence says it all - as soon as you know people are resorting to lawyers, you know they've lost all sense of proportion and the argument.

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  • 6. At 04:12am on 10 Sep 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    message 5....

    As you say, so shall it be!

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  • 7. At 07:50am on 10 Sep 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 8. At 09:11am on 10 Sep 2009, verymuchso wrote:

    Much of the work of the WLB is gesture politics, and expensive with it, but this service is really important. Languages have to develop, and one of the biggest challenges facing Welsh is its lack of a vocabulary to cope with the development of Welsh public law. Minimal translation of the acts of the Assembly into Welsh is an integral part of devolved government, not an optional extra.

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  • 9. At 10:15am on 10 Sep 2009, Returnee wrote:

    A tangential thought.

    If one accepts (and I appreciate many here dispute opinion polls, election results and the such-like) that public support has moved towards devolution (and its implications for example for Welsh language policy) since 1979 and since 1997, is an ultra-montaine unionist approach utlimately going to undermine the union?

    There is something in the observation that the Conservative administration of 1979-97 was responsible for the change in attitude towards devolution in Wales during those years.

    Therefore would an uncompromising unionist approach by a new Conservative administration in 2009 or 2010 in fact work against the union by pushing public opinion towards more and more devolution?

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  • 10. At 10:47am on 10 Sep 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Conservative party policy is to cascade democracy down from government to communities. This Conservative policy will neutralize Plaids separatist agenda by demonstrating a better way of governance, a step towards the philosophy of J.S.M. where less is more. Where does devolution fit, who knows, it could be the devolved governance bypasses certain interest groups.

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  • 11. At 12:37pm on 10 Sep 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 10

    It seems to me that the only policy the Tories have is to reinstate a toffocracy. Now Alan Duncan has gone, who does the Old Etonian David Cameron appoint? Well, fellow Old Etonian Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young, 6th Baronet, of course!!!

    And they expect us to believe that they've changed. Some may still be willing to doff their caps to them, with eyes to the floor, but I will not. What do they know about Welsh communities - nothing.

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  • 12. At 12:51pm on 10 Sep 2009, penddu wrote:

    9 David Melding (Conservative) made the point that the best way to maintain the Union is to adopt a federalist approach and a 'one-size-fits-all' policy has clearly not worked. I would go further than David Medling and say that the only viable sustainable future for the union is federal, with all other routes leading ultimately to independence.

    And the fastest route there is centralised unionist control.

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  • 13. At 3:56pm on 10 Sep 2009, John Henry wrote:


    No doubt David Melding sent a copy of his thoughts to DC, did DC agree with him that's the question. Fortunately the Conservative Party is mature enough to examine every suggestion, the Melding prose included.

    Your final sentence is ridiculous, since when have the Conservative Party promoted Soviet style government, the objective of DC and future cabinet is to return democracy to the people. I wrote earlier "less is more", less government more democracy.

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  • 14. At 7:03pm on 10 Sep 2009, Crossroads wrote:

    The appalling Welsh language board must be scrapped, wound up, sent packing, shown the door. It is by far THE biggest cause of friction between the majority of us Welsh. The English only speakers, by far the majority in Wales are not even aware of the existence of a body (apparently with unlimited funding)which exists wholly to push the Welsh language down our throats.

    This bunch....

    are making a damn good living out of "promoting" the Welsh language.This insidious organization came into being in order to further 'Welshify' Wales. It operates on the assumption that almost all Welsh speakers are likely to vote Plaid Cymru. What they haven't fathomed out is that those who don't speak Welsh, and in spite of all manner of expensive incentives, have no desire to do so, will in all probability vote strategically against Plaid Cymru. The bully-boy, Welsh language enforcers operating in the fanatical Welsh language board have, ironically turned English only speakers against devolution. Maybe those of us who are vehemently against the expensive goings on down the Bay of Pigs, should thank them. For they have done a much better job of alienating the people from this awful assembly then we could ever have hoped.

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  • 15. At 7:47pm on 10 Sep 2009, Monbordergirl wrote:

    Since when has the WLB had so much power? And when will the Welsh language lobby realise that you can't base nationhood on language alone? This obsession with the Welsh language is utter nonsense. The Scots don't ram Gaelic down everyone's throats and yet they have a much greater sense of nationhood and their own identity.
    Education is pretty poor in Wales as it is, putting our kids at a disadvantage in the big world outside where most of them will have move to make a decent living - not something widespread in Wales and what do we do? Strip hours out of the school week for learning essential skills to learn Welsh! So, can anyone tell me why the taxpayer should foot the bill for translations of documents that hardly anyone reads in English let alone in Welsh?
    Welsh is NOT important - what IS important is to ensure the Principality of Wales has standing in the world, that its people can aspire to something other than the next rugby match (how come rugby is given priority in the news here above murders and the like?) Come on Wales, move on from this and stop missing the boat through this isolationism. I've moved back here after working away and little has changed since when I left school in the late 70s - there's still no decent jobs and no ambition. The only thing that is different is this divisive nonsense about speaking Welsh.

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  • 16. At 8:47pm on 10 Sep 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    message 15....

    Welcome aboard the torpedo boat.

    But watch out, you are likely to be scuppered by small one or two man submarines, sneaking up on you from different angles.

    So far, all they have managed to achieve has been a load of graffiti like tosh, as they submit to their taskmasters in the Bay of Pigs.

    Their own torpedoes are useless, as it is not allowed to use their chosen language on this English message blog. They have no other weapons.

    So fire away with total disregard for whatever they throw at you, don't be disheartened, there are many taking turns in steering this craft towards the cessation of the whole sorry sad mess you have found on your return.

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  • 17. At 10:39pm on 10 Sep 2009, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    welcome aboard, join free-Wales, in our fight against the separatist Plaid, and their bizarre language crazed allies!!!....Rhodri's, version of Labour.

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  • 18. At 08:52am on 11 Sep 2009, Returnee wrote:


    Welcome to your nightmare...the other 78% of Wales

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  • 19. At 08:53am on 11 Sep 2009, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    15. I wish to welcome you as well to this vehicle,however with such views your card will be "marked",and get ready for such abuse as "welsh hater","pointyhead" etc etc.You have put the points,some of use have been making very well and thank for for that,and also your point about rugby in wales is absolutely correct. If religion is dead,then in wales and particularly BBC Wales a new one has been created i.e. rugby football. Welcome back Noah,and you must now be a "favourite" of BP,as I said basically the same but called "pulled" for "breaking the rules". Never mind I'm sure theres a Milk Monitor job coming soon.

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  • 20. At 09:42am on 11 Sep 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 14

    Typical Noa logic, you say:

    "THE biggest cause of friction between the majority of us Welsh"

    and then:

    "The English only speakers, by far the majority in Wales are not even aware of the existence of a body (apparently with unlimited funding)which exists wholly to push the Welsh language down our throats."

    Brilliant! With intellects like that on the anti-side ...

    Re 16

    Pathetic! But more importantly, completely off-topic.

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  • 21. At 10:36am on 11 Sep 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Returnee #18

    the other 78% of Wales

    A trifle ambiguous - but I assume you mean the 78% who don't speak Welsh.

    The majority of whom have no idea what the powers or terms of reference of the WLB are - until they get caught in the tentacles - then like me they start looking into Welsh Politics :)

    Horrible things hiding under the stones.

    Monbordergirl - welcome , despite the insults and rhetoric of the minority Plaid trolls on this blog, you will get support and a fair hearing.

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  • 22. At 9:35pm on 12 Sep 2009, mapex55 wrote:


    To return to the thread,.....

    this spat between a couple of Assembly sponsored outfits is like a couple of frogs in a muddy hole disputing which of them got the fly, whilst all around, on the banks, life goes on regardless.

    The rabbits eat the leaves, the foxes prey on the rabbits, and the huntsmen hunt the foxes.

    In truth what goes on in the politics of Wales, is about as relevant to the people in total, as what the dispute between the frogs in the pond, has to do with what is happening on the land around the mud hole.

    Nothing at all. It is irrelevant, plain and simple.

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  • 23. At 09:24am on 14 Sep 2009, Returnee wrote:


    Alas not, I refer to the latest polling that shows that 78% of people in Wales support devolution and that the percentage in favour or retaining / increasing devolution has been consistently rising since 1997.

    There are those who get very upset by facts and there are those who get on with life.

    Back to the latter...

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  • 24. At 11:17am on 14 Sep 2009, West-Wales wrote:

    Returnee - Welcome back.

    Hope you enjoyed your weekend at Llandudno always nice to share a few beers with like minded friends.

    Pity the Conference turned out to be such a damp squib!!

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  • 25. At 5:48pm on 14 Sep 2009, Returnee wrote:


    Greetings 'Down Below' from 'Up There'! Alas, I have been once to Llandudno (business) and never to a Plaid conference. I imagine these gatherings work if you get what you are looking for. I suspect that I would find the claustrophobic camerardrie any party conference pretty depressing.

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  • 26. At 11:49am on 16 Sep 2009, mapex55 wrote:

    message 25....

    Exactly what we, who oppose, find with most partisan political thetoric.

    Self centred, self serving, friendly to their own, but to the rest, showing enmity, and not just depressing, but positively manic.

    Glad to see you feel as we do in that respect. But we still wish to see the end of all that has been foisted upon us since 1997.

    Ten years of what is listed in my second paragraph. Can it ever get better? ..unlikely, so onwards to dissolution, and back to reality.

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