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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
Delay to abolish language board
Welsh Language Board logo
The language board was due to be abolished in 2007
The planned merger of the Welsh Language Board with the Welsh Assembly Government has been postponed until at least after the 2007 assembly election.

The publicly-funded WLB, which promotes the use of the Welsh language, was due to be absorbed by the assembly government before next May's elections.

Welsh Culture Minister Alun Pugh said the merger delay "isn't a change in policy" and that it would go ahead.

Opposition parties welcomed the delay in the merger.

The functions of the WLB are due to be absorbed into the assembly government as part of a shake-up of publicly-funded bodies - or quangos - announced by First Minister Rhodri Morgan in 2004.

Quangos including the Welsh Development Agency, Wales Tourist Board and education body Elwa have been abolished and brought under direct ministerial control, with the WLB due to follow early in 2007.

'Build consensus'

But Culture Minister Alun Pugh announced on Tuesday that the merger would not take place until after the May 2007 election.

Mr Pugh said: "We have decided to merge the board with the Welsh Assembly Government...through a single set of legislative changes rather than two."

In an interview with BBC Wales, Mr Pugh said the assembly government wanted "to build a consensus on the Welsh language...which is why we've decided to do this in a one-stage process rather than two".

Mike German, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the assembly, said: "The [assembly] government could see the writing was on the wall, and have finally given up on rushing through this half-baked proposal."

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "We have always made it clear that the decision to merge the board without taking other measures to safeguard the language was deeply damaging.

"The Labour assembly government has finally seen sense."

Lisa Francis, of the Welsh Conservatives, added: "We remain fundamentally opposed to plans to abolish the language board and fear Labour's plans will create further uncertainty and confusion."




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