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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
MP hits out over Gaelic funding
Gaelic road sign
MP Calum MacDonald claims Gaelic funding is "indefensible"
A former Scottish minister has labelled the UK Government's funding of Gaelic broadcasting as "indefensible".

Western Isles MP Calum MacDonald told the Commons there was a unique opportunity to set up a dedicated digital television channel.

But the Labour politician claimed the government appeared "incapable of willing the means" to fund such a venture for Scotland.

He said substantial funding was needed but the current 8.5m was not enough.

'Devolution orphan'

Mr MacDonald said the money currently being provided for Gaelic broadcasting this year by Westminster was less than the previous Conservative administration.

Mr MacDonald warned the issue was beginning to look "a bit like tokenism" and claimed the funding had become the "devolution orphan kept on a starvation diet".

He said: "These statistics are indefensible. Both this government and the Scottish Executive need to feel deep embarrassment about it."

However, Culture Minister Richard Caborn insisted the issue had been "high on the political agenda" and the funding was a "considerable sum of money".

Future commitment

Mr Caborn said Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell in June re-confirmed the government's "strong commitment" to Gaelic broadcasting.

She had made a commitment to seek to break the current "impasse" but had not held out the prospect of additional funding.

"However, she did commit to look at the future of Gaelic broadcasting within the context of the BBC's charter review and the wider future of digital broadcasting," he added.

He said the government was hoping to use an options paper by watchdog Ofcom to "move the issue forward".

A meeting of officials was planned for next month.


SEE ALSO:
Ministers unveil new Gaelic law
28 Sep 04  |  Scotland
Prince backs Gaelic's fightback
27 Sep 04  |  Scotland
Gaelic secondary school planned
21 May 04  |  Scotland
Sign of the times for Highlands
08 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Plans to protect Gaelic
10 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Gaelic first for parents
03 Jun 03  |  Scotland


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