HC Deb 28 May 1970 vol 801 cc2084-6

4.45 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Elystan Morgan)

I beg to move,

That the Elections (Welsh Forms) (No. 5) Regulations 1970, dated 1st May, 1970, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th May, be approved.

I shall be brief, but I should like to make two principal points. First, these Regulations follow the Representation of the People Act 1969 and prescribe versions, partly in the English language and partly in the Welsh language, of forms prescribed by regulations under that Act. Those regulations needed an affirmative Resolution of the House before coming into force, and so, therefore, do these.

Secondly, this is in the nature of a minor corrective operation. Welsh versions of the predecessors of these forms were prescribed in 1964 and will be available for use as necessary at the forthcoming Election, and, therefore, they will be available from this time onwards.

In the case of the poll-cards, the polling hours will simply need to be amended to read 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In the case of Forms A, which is the canvass form, a Welsh version has been prescribed previously, and was used last year, and forms based on the Regulations now before the House will shortly be printed for use in Wales this year.

As I am sure the House is aware, these translations form only part of a substantial bulk of translations of forms into the Welsh language which have been prepared over the last few years. Other Home Office official forms include 86 forms in use in the courts, and five forms in use for purposes of Sunday polls under the Licensing Act. Other Departments, too, have been responsible for the translation of forms, notably, of course, the Welsh Office, which, at the moment, has about 250 forms translated into the Welsh language in current use, more than 200 of these having ben translated since the coming into force of the Welsh Language Act, 1967.

I trust that the maximum use will be made of these forms. Not only are they of benefit to the persons whose first and natural language is Welsh, but the Government believe that they create an atmosphere which is favourable to the preservation of the Welsh language, and that is something upon which the Government set great importance.

Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)

Does my hon. Friend know why the representative of the Welsh Nationalist Party is not here for these important deliberations? Has my hon. Friend had a note from the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) to explain why he is absent?

Mr. Elystan Morgan

I do not think that I would want to make a party point on that. I understand that the hon. Gentleman has been in hospital for a week or two, but I believe that he is now recuperating.

These forms can create a background which will make it possible for support to be given to the Welsh language, which is not only an important facet of Welsh nationhood, but is, at the same time, one of the great cultural institutions of Britain.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Elections (Welsh Forms) (No. 5) Regulations 1970, dated 1st May 1970, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th May, be approved.