HC Deb 10 February 2000 vol 344 c398
25. Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

What provision the Crown Prosecution Service makes for Welsh speakers in the conduct of proceedings in Wales. [107907]

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Ross Cranston)

It has been the CPS's policy in the conduct of its business to treat the Welsh and English languages on the basis of equality. That policy was given further effect by the publication of the "Welsh Language Scheme" on 27 January. The Welsh Language Board has approved the scheme. It aims to enable anyone who communicates with the CPS in Wales to do so in Welsh, if they so choose.

Mr. Griffiths

Is my hon. and learned Friend confident that there are enough Welsh-speaking chief Crown prosecutors to ensure that, in all cases where participants are Welsh speakers, they will be able to use their mother tongue?

The Solicitor-General

There are a number of Crown prosecutors who can speak Welsh. I think that about a quarter of them can, which compares favourably with the population as a whole. In addition, there are members of the Bar in Wales who can conduct trials in Welsh. Although it is a responsibility of the Lord Chancellor's Department, there are people who can interpret. I am confident that people in Wales can conduct criminal proceedings in Welsh.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

As a member of the Welsh Bar, I know that provision is patchy in Wales. The CPS should run courses to train people to conduct and to deal with advocacy through the medium of the Welsh language. It is only proper that that should happen; and it should be an all-Wales scheme.

The Solicitor-General

As I said in my original answer, there is a dual policy. The Welsh language advocacy training programme supports Crown prosecutors to enable them to prosecute cases in Welsh—but I take the point. We are working on it.