BBC BLOGS - Betsan's Blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

And finally ...

Betsan Powys | 17:02 UK time, Tuesday, 8 September 2009

And finally ... the motion which is being tabled on behalf of Alun Davies, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Paul Davies and Jenny Randerson and which must surely bring to a halt plans to no longer translate contributions made in English into Welsh for the official record.

Here it is in full:

Equality within the National Assembly for Wales

This is a motion tabled under Section 27 clause 6 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

The National Assembly notes the decision of the Assembly Commission to cease the direct translation of Welsh to English within the record of proceedings.

The National Assembly further notes that this decision was taken without any consultation with Members and that Members were not notified that the decision was to be taken.

The National Assembly for Wales believes that a commitment to equality is a founding principle of the institution.

The National Assembly for Wales is disappointed by this decision of the Commission and instructs the Commission to ensure that the Assembly's commitment to equality is reflected throughout the work and the decisions of the Commission.

The National Assembly for Wales reaffirms its commitment to both of Wales' national languages, the creation of a bilingual Wales, and instructs the Commission to treat both languages on the basis of equality.

The National Assembly also affirms the right of Members to be informed of the work of the Commission and to be consulted on any major decisions.

The suggestion? That unless the Commission and the Presiding Officer fall into line and scrap their plan, then the matter becomes one of confidence.

Watch this space.

UPDATE: As one of this blog's readers has noticed - a reader that as far as I can tell from his comments manages generally to keep a clear head - the motion should read "translation of English to Welsh" not vice versa. Clear head = good thing.

UPDATE: Sir Humphrey is not a happy bunny and into the space we're all watching lobs this sentiment: "Nothing has changed".

It's certainly true, as Sir Humphrey's friends point out, that the motion doesn't compel the Commission to back down. My suggestion yesterday was that it didn't do that precisely because it gave the Presiding Officer a way out. Any stronger and the matter would become one of confidence.

There's unhappiness too that the motion claims "members were not notified that the decision was to be taken" when the papers for the Commission meeting on June 1st were made available online on June 22nd. All Assembly Members were sent an Email drawing their attention to them.

Fair enough. What should they have spotted? If they'd worked their way through the paragraphs on strategy, the figures and the percentages, they would have come to this:

3.11 Areas of spend that could be reviewed include:

Service levels - in areas we may need to consider the balance between demands and affordability (for example the current requiment for a fully bilingual record of plenary meetings".

So yes, it was there - page three, in brackets but there.

So what next?

No sign of the Commission backing down, though doesn't Sir Humphrey always find a third way? One that allows for a 'review' that would take a look, not just at direct translation of proceedings but at how the Welsh language is used in committees and on a day to day basis in the Assembly: one that would create a way out of a tight corner.

One of the four Commissioners, Labour's Lorraine Barrett, has no intention of trying to get out of the corner at all.

The decision, she says, is the right one. Money has got to be saved and time would be far better spent not getting "het up" about this decision and rather concentrating on the "exciting plans" the Presiding Officer has in place to enhance the use of Welsh in the Assembly more generally.

It's significant, she suggests, that there is no translation at all in Scotland and Ireland and adds too that as far as she can recollect, the decision wasn not controversial when it was discussed with her fellow Commissioners. Were objections raised, as we're now told by Plaid's Chris Franks and by Nick Bourne?

That is not her recollection.

"This is a draft budget, so obviously people will have their views, but I think it's the right decision".

This space is starting to get rather more crowded.


or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.