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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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