Wales politics

Call for Welsh-language speeches in Parliament

House of Commons chamber
Image caption The MPs are not expecting a bilingual Prime Minister's Questions anytime soon

Welsh MPs have called for greater freedom to conduct debates in Parliament in the Welsh language.

Labour's Paul Flynn called for "practical arrangements of reasonable value" to allow Welsh-language speeches when Welsh business is discussed.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards agreed, saying the Welsh affairs and Welsh grand committees should be bilingual.

Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Tom Brake said MPs could already use Welsh in the chamber in short extracts.

He said UK ministers were committed to the Welsh language.

During questions to the leader of the house, Mr Flynn said "the use of the Welsh language is still treated as though it is secondary to that of English, inevitably".

"Sensible arrangements can be made. Other parliaments deal with half a dozen languages".

'Norman French'

Mr Edwards noted that "about half of those who took part in yesterday's Welsh Grand Committee debate on the Budget were fluent, first-language Welsh speakers".

"Surely the sittings of the Welsh Affairs Committee and the Welsh Grand Committee should be held bilingually, thereby making Welsh an official language of this Parliament, the same as English and Norman French?"

The comments were prompted by a question from Conservative MP Glyn Davies about steps the UK government was taking to promote use of the Welsh language in House of Commons business.

Mr Brake said MPs can already use Welsh in the proceedings of the House in short extracts, "but a translation for the benefit of non-Welsh speakers should be provided".

He added that the "House agreed in 2001 to the recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure that witnesses before select committees should be able to give evidence in Welsh.

"The impact assessment for the Wales Bill was also translated into Welsh, so action is being taken where it can be," he said.

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