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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 April 2007, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Police chief 'duty' over speech
Richard Brunstrom
Mr Brunstrom said he was doing his duty in making the speech
North Wales Police's chief constable has denied he crossed the line by making a speech which urged politicians to update the Welsh Language Act.

At the Welsh language pressure group Cymuned's conference, Richard Brunstrom said the 1993 act was outdated and said he was doing his duty by raising it.

Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems defended Mr Brunstrom's comments while the Tories said they would revise the act.

Labour favoured "partnership" rather than compulsion as the way forward.

In the speech, made at Cymuned's conference in Penrhyndeudaraeth on Saturday, Mr Brunstrom urged the next assembly to consider using its new powers to reform the Welsh Language Act.

He said politicians should pass measures to protect the right of Welsh speakers to use the language with public and private organisations.

Make recommendations

While accepting that the 1993 Welsh Language Act had secured a future for the Welsh language, Mr Brunstrom argued it had outlived its usefulness.

Defending the comments, Mr Brunstrom said that he had a duty as a senior police officer to make recommendations and suggestions to elected politicians about policies which would lead to more cohesion and less tension within communities.

Earlier in the week, Mr Brunstrom was criticised by one north Wales Labour MP for making a political statement.

He denied that he had crossed the line which prevented public officials from making political statements or causing political controversy.

He was he said, doing his duty.

Plaid Cymru's Alun Ffred Jones hit back at the criticism and said the police chief was entitled to express his views.

Urgent update

"Richard Brunstrom has already shown his commitment to a fully bilingual police service and is entitled to express his opinions on the inadequacies of the current legislation," he said.

Liberal Democrat Welsh language spokesperson Eleanor Burnham said Mr Brunstrom was right to attack the Welsh Language Act which needed "to be updated urgently".

"That is why we are proposing to use the Assembly's new powers to do just that."

In a statement, Labour said its manifesto made it clear that working in partnership was the way to increase use and participation in the Welsh language rather than through compulsion.

Welsh Conservatives Welsh language spokesperson Lisa Francis said they would review and revise the act to build on legislation introduced when they were last in government.

They were also against enforcement measures, she said.

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