HC Deb 19 November 1954 vol 533 cc728-9

Lords Amendment: In page 101, line 15, after the Amendment last inserted, insert new Clause "K": Where the natural language of communication of the persons employed at a mine or quarry or of a substantial number of those persons is Welsh, then, in considering the qualifications of candidates for appointments required, by or by virtue of this Act, to be made in the case of that mine or quarry, regard shall be had to the possession of a knowledge of that language.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

If I may be permitted a personal confession, I must admit that my position is delicate in this matter, because I am one of the number of people with Welsh names who are not able to speak the Welsh language. Therefore, I submit myself to the indulgence of the House right at the beginning. But I appreciate the importance of having a provision of this kind, more particularly because some years ago I had an illustration of its importance. I was travelling in Wales in the mountain districts and lost my way late at night. I began to ask the way—I am sorry to say in English—and it was a long time before I could find somebody who understood what I was trying to say. I see that the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams) is considering this matter with great care. The really important thing is that a large number of Welsh people, and particularly Welsh miners, think in Welsh more naturally and more speedily than they do in English. Therefore, where quick action is essential for safety it is important that directions should be given in a language which causes the quickest and most efficient reaction.

Question put, and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendment, to the Amendment in page 103, line 36, agreed to.