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Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 13:03 UK

Visitors asked how to save Welsh

Eisteddfod main pavilion
The eisteddfod plays host to a series of events on the Welsh language plans

Visitors to this week's National Eisteddfod at Bala in Gwynedd are being consulted by the assembly government on how to strengthen the Welsh language.

Ministers are seeking powers from Westminster to allow them to introduce legislation on the language.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said it was "essential" to discuss the action for an effective strategy".

Surgeries and a question and answer session will be conducted and a survey compiled over the eisteddfod week.

Ministers say they are committed to confirming official status for the Welsh and English languages, providing "linguistic rights in the provision of services" and to establishing a language commissioner.

But last month MPs on the Welsh affairs select committee said the scope of the powers being sought by the assembly government should be more clearly defined.

New powers

The report criticised the call for the laws to apply to bodies receiving more than £200,000 of public cash, saying the figure "seems to have been chosen at random".

And the committee warned the type of bodies specified "could lead to inconsistencies in service", with banks and insurance services excluded but utilities and telecommunications included.

The MPs also said more information was needed on the role of the language commissioner.

The Wales Office and assembly government are negotiating changes to the bid, or Legislative Competence Order (LCO).

'Truly bilingual'

Mr Jones said it was "an important time for the future development of the language".

"It is essential that we engage in a discussion on the action that needs to be taken within government and the wider community in order to develop an effective strategy," he said.

"The assembly government wants to work to ensure that more people, young and old, can learn, speak and use the language in their day to day lives.

"After all, the language belongs to everyone in Wales, whether they speak it or not and we are taking action to make sure that we're better equipped to achieve our goal of creating a truly bilingual Wales," Mr Jones added.

The question and answer session is being held at the eisteddfod's Societies Pavilion on Tuesday 4 August 1400-1500 BST, with Mr Jones joined by other guests including Welsh Language Board chair Meri Huws and Welsh Language Society chair Menna Machreth.

Surgeries will be held at the assembly government stand on Monday 3 August, 1400-1500 BST, Wednesday 5 August, 1330-1430 BST, and Friday 7 August, 1200-1300 BST.



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