Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

MPs back assembly Welsh language powers

The Palace of Westminster
Both Houses of Parliament have given their backing to the powers

MPs have backed giving the Welsh assembly more powers to legislate on the Welsh language.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he wanted to give the assembly the authority to make laws on the language.

He told MPs it played a "central, fundamental role" in society and it was right to now build on the "firm foundations" of the Welsh Language Act.

The Lords backed the move last week, and the powers will now go to the Queen for her final approval.

Once a legislative competence order (LCO) has been approved, Assembly Members can then begin the process of drafting a new Welsh law, or measure.

MPs spoke for an hour and a half in the Westminster debate on Tuesday, mainly in favour of the legislation.

The nation's legislature is surely the national home for making laws in relation to the language
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain

Mr Hain said the order would allow the right balance to be struck between those who used Welsh as their mother tongue and the "large majority" in Wales - some 80% - who did not speak it.

He said: "The nation's legislature is surely the national home for making laws in relation to the language."

But he warned: "No-one would like to see the private sector prevented from investing in Wales because of burdensome Welsh language duties being inappropriately imposed on business.

"What is right in respect of a large public authority need not be necessary be right for a smaller private sector company."

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "I want to see the language protected and nurtured, not resented or turned into a non-tariff barrier to business or consumer choice.

'Strong moral case'

"If this order goes through there will be measures that flow from it and I hope that none of my fears are realised.

"I hope that particularly in these difficult economic times nothing is done to disadvantage Welsh businesses, Welsh consumers, Welsh families and most importantly the Welsh language itself."

For the Liberal Democrats, Mark Williams said: "This debate is not about the merits of the process it is about transferring powers to our assembly at their request."

He added: "I can think of no other area of policy where there is such a strong moral case."

Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy described the measure as a "milestone" for the Welsh language but urged AMs to "tread carefully", respecting the needs of different parts of the country and of business.

Plaid Cymru spokesman Hywel Williams said it was a "striking and radical step," and added: "I think we should rightly be proud of having taken it."

The order was carried without a vote.

Print Sponsor

AMs pass bid for language powers
03 Nov 09 |  Wales
Assembly 'must have Welsh powers'
05 Jun 09 |  Wales
Welsh language legal bid starts
02 Feb 09 |  Wales
Language bid 'ready this month'
15 Jan 09 |  Wales
'Too much' Welsh language support
16 May 07 |  Wales
Plaid wants Welsh as EU language
27 Sep 04 |  Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific