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Friday, August 20, 1999 Published at 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK

UK: Wales

Assembly accused of hypocrisy over Welsh

Tory David Davies is one of two AMs taking a Welsh class

Assembly members have been accused of hypocrisy for backing the compulsory teaching of Welsh in schools while ignoring a chance to learn the language.

The BBC's Simon Morris reports on the language controversy
Only two AMs have so far attended the National Assembly's three-week intensive Welsh beginners course.

While their colleagues are on the long summer break, Lib Dem leader Mike German and the Tories' David Davies are back in the classroom.

Mr Davies is a surprise learner as he has fought for the scrapping of the compulsory teaching of Welsh up to the age of 16 since his election.

BBC Wales' Bethan Rhys Roberts discusses the issue with David Davies and Sian Howys
He says AMs who support the policy have got double standards.

"They have said that they expect people in schools to learn Welsh up to the age of 16," he said.

"I think that it's slightly hypocritical not to bother showing up for a free course laid on for their benefit."

Sian Howys, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, said it was worrying that politicians were not taking advantage of the opportunity.

[ image: Lib Dem Leader Mike German is also spending his holidays in the classroom]
Lib Dem Leader Mike German is also spending his holidays in the classroom
"In our canvass of AMs, a vast number of them who are not able to speak Welsh have said they are keen to learn," she said.

"There are a vast number of adults in Wales who are learning Welsh and it would be an encouragement for them - and a good example - if more AMs take up this opportunity."

They are the only two to enrol so far, although an Assembly spokesman said 20 of the 60 AMs already spoke Welsh and a further 20 have expressed an interest.

Tom Middlehurst, the Assembly Secretary responsible for the language, is having private lessons, and other AMs are understood to have arranged their own tuition.

The poor attendance has also been blamed on the short notice AMs received about the course.

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