Dropping Welsh Language Bill "chance to move on" to a million speakers

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Responding to the announcement that the Welsh Government had dropped the Welsh Language Bill plans and will retain the position of the Welsh Language Commissioner, Sian Gwenllian AM, Plaid Cymru's Shadow Minister for Education and Welsh said,

“I welcome that the Welsh Government have listened to public opinion and Plaid Cymru's argument from the outset that it would be foolish to present the Welsh Language Bill proposals.

“Over recent months, it became clear from thorough scrutiny in the National Assembly's Culture Committee, chaired by Bethan Sayed AM, that the Welsh Language Measure 2011 had a positive impact on the Welsh language and the rights of its speakers. Indeed, the evidence is clear and opinion is consistent that implementation of the current language act and to build on the foundations of the system is what is needed at this point.

“It seems that we need to turn our view now on far-reaching legislative changes in relation to the Welsh language in the field of education - particularly Welsh-medium education. There is now a new opportunity following dropping the Bill to investigate the possibilities of a Welsh Education Act.

“I have spoken to the Minister today who confirmed that the introduction of more standards will restart and that is very much welcomed. However, there is a definite need for certainty and a timetable for the work. The work has already been delayed for two years - Brexit or not, the work of placing Welsh language responsibilities - in the field of water and energy companies, buses and trains, housing associations and the welfare state, and telecommunications companies – cannot be delayed further. I would like to see Eluned Morgan's department taking advantage of the expertise of the Welsh Language Commissioner's office and their experience of the standards to overcome any possible barriers.

“Moving forward from the bill, the big challenge for the Government is now focusing on the implementation of the Million Speakers Strategy. Of course, such ambitious vision calls for strong political leadership from the government and an appropriate budget that fits the size of the challenge. There is also a need for a suitable structure that would allow us to develop language planning expertise and the strategic leadership to drive the work. Plaid Cymru is ready to play a leading and constructive role in that debate.

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