Fancy a job?
Fancy a job?
As far as I can make out from skim reading the proposed Welsh language measure - and that's no mean task at 136 pages long - there is no danger money attached. Perhaps there ought to be.
The job is that of a Commissioner. We have one to protect the interests of children and another to champion the rights of older people. If and when this measure becomes law then we will have a Welsh Language Commissioner too. Like the other two he or she will champion the cause, in this instance, the Welsh language. Unlike the other two, this one will have legal enforcement powers.
Who'll appoint the Commissioner?
The Assembly Government - not, note, the Assembly as a whole.
What's the job?
To set new standards that will place a legal duty on public bodies and companies who provide things like mobile phones and gas and electricity to offer some services in Welsh. How much? In which parts of Wales? That'll be up to the Commissioner.
What if they don't reach the standards imposed on them?
The Commissioner, if cajoling doesn't cut it, can fine them up to £5000.
Some more 'what ifs'.
What if they keep re-offending. After all what's a fine fo £5000 to companies who make huge profits?
The Government could legislate to make the fine higher. It could become a matter of contempt of court.
What if a mobile phone company, say, don't think the Commissioner has been fair or proportionate in his demands? What if they think he or she has gone too far?
They can appeal to a Welsh Language Tribunal. (Monty Python did come to mind ... One closely involved with the measure suggested red, white and green wigs might come in handy.)
But what if Mrs Jones in Llanystumdwy isn't happy with the level of service the Commissioner has said she can expect from her electricity company? What if she thinks it doesn't go far enough?
Um ... she can lobby her Assembly Member, or not vote for them next time round I suppose. That's democracy for you. It doesn't sound quite as immediate, does it?Perhaps those scrutinising the measure will wonder the same.
Perhaps they will look at the role of the Commissioner and wonder at just how central and crucial it is to the measure working successfully.
How much scrutiny will there be?
This is a long and complex measure. If the Culture Minister says there's a chance the Commissioner will be in post before the next Assembly election (I wonder who the government have their eye on to fill the role ... someone who'd like to make a move before the next round of door-knocking and campaigning starts perhaps?) then the proposed measure must become law by this time next year at the latest.
'Makes for bad laws' mutters a veteran of more than one legislature. Rushed law is bad law.
'It's so authoritarian' mutters another, who questions the wisdom of starting to wrangle about a measure in such a contentious area of Welsh life, just before Assembly Members plan to unite to ask the public for more powers. 'People will say - look what they're doing with the powers they've got now.'
The Welsh Language Society got in early on Radio Wales. As they see it this measure will not confer rights on Welsh speakers to use the language in Wales. Why not, they ask? Why can't duties imposed on businesses to provide services in Welsh go hand in hand with rights conferred on those who use those services?
The CBI got in early too. Businesses want to know what will be expected of them and this doesn't tell them a thing, said David Rosser. The Assembly Government will please no-one with this measure.
Funnily enough I suspect that won't come as a surprise to the Culture Minister, or to any of his advisers.
If the proposed measure was online I'd link to it. When it is, I will.
As promised: read the proposed measure here.