Wales: Language board warns over reforms

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu May 25 17:30:17 UTC 2006

Language board warns over reforms May 24 2006
From: icWales

 One of the quangos in the Assembly Government's line of fire said public
sector reforms could undermine the status of the Welsh language today. The
Welsh Language Board, due to be abolished in Rhodri Morgan's bonfire of
the quangos, said its disappearance could "weaken" the language. Welsh
Language Minister Alun Pugh said the reforms would make policies more
accountable because voters, who were stuck with unpopular quangos, could
kick unpopular ministers out of office.

He told the Assembly's culture committee: "If people are not happy about
any aspect of public policy the ultimate power lies at the ballot box, to
change the Government and to change the policy." Mr Pugh is the AM for the
highly-marginal seat of Clwyd West where he will defend a majority of just
436 at next year's Assembly election. He survived a censure motion earlier
this year after a bruising fight with the arts establishment, when he was
accused of alienating the arts community and railroading through reforms
to the Arts Council of Wales.

The Assembly Government wants to "merge" the language board with its
administration, as it did to quangos such as the Welsh Development Agency.
In a paper published today, the board said it was "difficult to predict"
what would happen to Welsh after the merger. "It could strengthen the
position of the Welsh language, but it is quite possible that it will
weaken it," it said. It complained about "a lack of clarity" about the job
of Dyfarnydd (Referee) which the Government will appoint to take over the
board's job of enforcing language laws. Mr Pugh promised the merger would
not create instability and said the Assembly Government invested in Welsh
to increase the number of speakers.

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