HC Deb 27 June 1983 vol 44 cc330-1
2. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will introduce new legislation to safeguard the rights of those who speak, or wish to speak, the Welsh language.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

No. The Government will continue to support those who speak or wish to speak the Welsh language on the lines set out in my right hon. Friend's speech at Llanrwst in 1980.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware that his right hon. Friend's speech at Llanrwst in 1980 did not cover the anomalies arising from the interpretation of the Welsh Language Act 1967? Does he agree that, as 15 years have gone by, the Act should be reviewed to see how it can be strengthened and made more universally applicable? Does the Minister accept that a considerable lobby in Wales is in favour of a commission to draw together the various bodies interested in the Welsh language, to ensure an integrated policy on the language? If so, does he agree that such a commission, to be effective, must be statutory?

Mr. Roberts

The Government already have a positive commitment to the Welsh language, which they have stated time and again. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State stated it in his Llanrwst speech and it was reiterated in our manifesto. The evidence of the last four years speaks for itself. We have quadrupled support for the Welsh language. An integrated policy operates. I have heard little criticism of it. There is no evidence of a demand for a commission of the kind described by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hooson

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that one thing that can be guaranteed to increase resistance to the Welsh language in large parts of Wales is further legislative pressure on people who are not Welsh speakers?

Mr. Roberts

I agree. I have referred to the Government's positive commitment. That has normally been to support the voluntary bodies that are dedicated to the furtherance of the language. I have no doubt that discrimination, or any type of compulsion, would be counter-productive.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Has the Minister any further plans to give extra financial aid to foster the Welsh language?

Mr. Roberts

We have quadrupled total support from £708,400 in 1979–80 to £2,569,496 in the current year. I cannot say what our financial commitment will be for coming years, but it will be reviewed in due course.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Has the Minister any evidence that the Hughes-Parry recommendations are not being implemented in Wales in letter and spirit?

Mr. Roberts

No, Sir.