Wales politics

Welsh grand committee not so grand, suggests Tory MP

It's one of the most important forums for discussing Wales at Westminster. But according to one Conservative MP, its meetings are normally "a complete waste of time".

Glyn Davies took to Facebook last night to compare a debate he led in Westminster Hall on S4C with a simultaneous discussion in the Welsh grand committee.

The Montgomeryshire MP wrote: "Led a good debate today on future of S4C. Attracted quite a bit of media attention. MPs from across all parties were constructive. More Welsh MPs would have been there except they were committed to Welsh Grand Committee meeting, which normally are a complete waste of time. Today was a classic example, emphasised by quality of S4C debate."

Readers can judge for themselves, although one MP who did participate in yesterday's Welsh grand committee meeting told me he thought the quality of debates continued to decline. The highlight of yesterday afternoon's debate was a lively, some might say aggressive, clash between Labour's Chris Evans and Conservative Guto Bebb. Mr Bebb later branded Mr Evans a "silly boy" on Twitter.

Today, Mr Davies was on his feet in the chamber of the Commons to try to promote the use of the Welsh language in Parliament. He also wanted assurances that every "every [government] department is committed to working in a way that fully recognises its legal obligations in compliance with the Welsh Language Act 1993".

Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Tom Brake told him the government was committed to the Welsh language and noted that MPs can already use Welsh in proceedings in short extracts, "but a translation for the benefit of non-Welsh speakers should be provided"

Labour's Paul Flynn complained: "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".

Plaid Cymru's Jonathan 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".

Now there's an idea. Holding Welsh grand committee meetings in Welsh, or even Norman French, might just add to their appeal.