Tuesday, 15 December 2009

LCO on the Welsh Language

I have just been watching on BBC-Parliament the debate on the floor of the House of Commons. I gather these things are usually finished off in committee, but the Secretary of State for Wales felt that it was "important" for it to be debated by the whole house. There followed speeches of self-congratulation by Peter Hain and Cheryl Gillan, followed by a succession of other Labour notables, on how they had improved the Order by compelling the untrustworthy - and unworldly? - Welsh to act reasonably and commercially. Ms Gillan seemed particularly concerned that those nice mobile phone companies should not be frightened away from Wales by having to cater for people whose first language is Welsh*.

This orgy of colonialist back-patting was interrupted only by David Davies (Con, Monmouth) who was against the whole idea of devolution in the first place, and by Hywel Williams (PC, Caernarfon) and Mark Williams (Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion) who, while welcoming the order, suggested that perhaps Westminster does not need to micro-manage Cardiff (my gloss).

The "importance" of this debate seems to have been to give Welsh Labour MPs an opportunity to read into the record a speech which can be relayed in friendly media at home. When the fourth - or was it fifth? - Alun Michael rose to deliver very much the same ten-minutes worth, I decided that Neil Pearson in "Vent" would not only be more entertaining but more enlightening as well.

* Hywel Williams gave the lie to that by demonstrating that Iberian subscribers could get help in Catalan.

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