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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 July 2005, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Peer calls for language reforms
Lord Prys-Davies
Lord Prys-Davies wants to see a new Welsh Language Act
A senior Welsh Labour peer has criticised the Welsh Assembly Government's decision to scrap the Welsh Language Board by 2007.

Lord Gwilym Prys-Davies said the Cardiff Bay administration had not justified how the language would benefit from the reforms.

Set up in 1993 the main function of the board was to promote the language.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said the reforms would "bring the Welsh language to the heart of government."

In November 2004 Mr Morgan announced that the Welsh Language Board would be abolished.

'Principles'

Lord Prys-Davies, who received a life peerage over 20 years ago, argued in favour of a new Welsh Language Act on BBC Radio Cymru's programme, Llinyn Mesur, on Sunday.

He was critical of First Minister Rhodri Morgan for refusing to strengthen the present act.

The peer from Llanegryn, Gwynedd also called for transferring legislative powers regarding the Welsh language to the assembly.

"Some argue that the right to pass legislation about the Welsh language should remain in London, but is goes against the principles developing in Europe," he said.

"If the assembly develops, it should be responsible for the legislation.

"After all, the AMs are the elected representatives of the people of Wales, therefore the right to decide on legislature on the Welsh language should lie with them."

He also questioned who would be able to give the assembly independent advice about the language.

Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan announced the reforms last year

But a spokesperson on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government said: "The decision to merge the Welsh Language Board with the Welsh Assembly Government will bring the Welsh language to the heart of government, helping us to further mainstream the language and ensure democratic accountability.

"The expertise and work of the Welsh Language Board will be maintained after the merger within the Welsh Assembly Government."

The Welsh Language Board - established in December 1993 under the terms of the Welsh Language Act - will have its duties and staff transferred to the assembly government in two years' time.

Lord Prys-Davies said the Human Rights Act had enhanced people's understanding of the basic rights of the individual.

The right of a person to use his mother tongue in his own country should be regarded in the same light as any other political or economic right, he argued.




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