Select Committee on Welsh Affairs First Special Report



  (HC 38)

Paragraph 9

It is clear that Wales does not generally enjoy a high profile overseas and it appears that the reasons for this are multiple and complex. It may be inevitable that a small country such as Wales is less prominent internationally than its larger neighbours, but it is nonetheless a source of concern if it means that Wales is losing out on the cultural and economic benefits which widespread international recognition brings.

The Government notes the Committee's concerns but does not accept that Wales has a lower profile than similar sized European countries or regions.

The British Tourist Authority's (BTA) marketing strategy, which involves building up an increased awareness of Britain and its constituent parts, will help to raise Wales' profile as a tourism destination within Britain in its own right. In addition, the 2001/5 strategy of the British Council makes a commitment to promote the UK's constituent countries, including Wales, as part of its overall promotion of the UK. In working to enhance the UK's reputation in the world, the British Council continues to draw upon the strengths and opportunities provided by the distinct identities of each constituent country and to promote the UK as socially and politically diverse.

Similarly, British Trade International (BTI) will continue to work closely with Wales Trade International (WTI) to enable business in Wales to benefit from international trade and with the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) to ensure that the strengths of Wales as a location for inward investment are understood.

Paragraph 12

Although many of our witnesses seemed comfortable with the distinction, we find it difficult to disentangle the promotion of the UK as a whole from the promotion of its constituent countries. For many outside the UK (and, indeed, some inside it), "Britain" means England. It is therefore important that, notwithstanding the existence of bodies with a responsibility for promoting Wales specifically, United Kingdom bodies acknowledge and reflect the distinct identity of each constituent part of the UK in their activities.

The Government accepts that the marketing of the individual countries comprising Britain can sometimes be hampered by the inability of some potential overseas visitors to distinguish between >Britain' and >England'. However, confusion over nomenclature does not negate the fact that a raising of the profile of Britain as a whole will bring benefits to Wales.

For this reason, the BTA's marketing strategy involves building up an increased awareness of Britain as a destination, and then moving on to promote the constituent parts, such as Wales, as destinations within Britain in their own right. The BTA's evidence to the Committee has already explained the process by which it works very closely with the Wales Tourist Board (WTB) and the other national tourist boards in order to achieve this.

The British Council's strategy for 2001/5 and beyond, "The British Council and the Future" makes a commitment to fully utilise the opportunities offered by devolution for promoting the UK's constituent countries, including Wales, as part of the overall promotion of the UK's strengths in the arts, education, language, governance, science and technology. In addition, the strategy contains a commitment to challenge outmoded stereotypes of the UK by projecting the UK's creativity, cultural diversity and recent achievements.

Territorial offices of the UK Government, including the Wales Office, also have a role to play in accurately representing the constituent countries of the UK abroad. The Wales Office regularly engages in exchanges of information and best practice with international partners in the field of regional government and, so far, these have included partners from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Slovakia, Ecuador and the Four Motor Regions ( Lombardy, Baden Wurtemburg, Rhone­Alpes and Catalonia).

Paragraph 15

We are pleased that Wales Trade International and Trade Partners UK are working well together.

BTI has sought from its inception to ensure that the interests of the devolved administrations are properly taken into account, including through representation on its Board. The Committee's recognition of the close working relationship between Trade Partners UK and WTI is therefore welcome.

In addition, the Committee may wish to note that in June 2001, WTI and the British Council worked together to organise a successful seminar on exporting Welsh Creative Industries. The British Council intends to continue working with WTI as part of its work to increase the export of UK education, arts and creative industries.

Paragraph 20

British Trade International is still a young organisation but there is encouraging evidence that since its creation relations between the WDA and I­UK have been better than those with I­UK's predecessor, the Invest in Britain Bureau. We accept that Invest­UK's role is to maximise the total amount of investment in the UK and this emphasises the importance of promoting Wales abroad, alongside the UK as a whole. This is largely a matter for the National Assembly for Wales and its sponsored public bodies.

The Government welcomes the Committee's recognition of Invest UK's role in promoting the whole of the UK as the premier location in Europe for inward investment and thus to serve all regions of the UK. Whilst Invest UK cannot direct potential investors to particular regions against the wishes of the client, it aims to ensure that potential investors are aware of all the options. The development of effective working relations with all of the development agencies will therefore continue to be central to its operation.

Paragraph 27

We believe that Wales's poor share of the overseas tourist market is largely due to the country's poor recognition overseas.

Around 4% of overseas visitors to the UK visit Wales ­ compared to the Welsh population share of approximately 5%. Poor 'brand recognition' may play a part, but this relatively low share of the inbound market cannot be attributed to a single cause. BTA research shows that 70% of expenditure by overseas visitors to the UK takes place in cities. However, Cardiff is currently the only city in Wales which forms a major element in the overseas visitor trail. Wales also has a lower share of the business tourism market than the UK as a whole. This could be partly due to a relative lack of facilities, and the BTA is supporting the WTB's campaign for a conference centre to be built in Cardiff.

The BTA is working with senior political and public figures in Wales to publicise Wales as a destination to overseas markets. For example, a visit to Johannesburg by the Assembly First Minister on 18th September was hosted by the BTA South Africa Office and in April this year, the BTA and WTB organised a visit to Wales by around fifty travel, trade and media leaders from nine overseas markets, as part of a special programme of visits devised to spearhead the tourism promotion of Britain around the world. In addition, the BTA continues to promote Welsh sporting events, as it did successfully with last year's Rugby World Cup.

More generally, BTA is about to launch its "Hidden Britain" campaign to promote touring itineraries for each part of Britain, including Wales, with the aim of drawing visitors away from the usual "honeypot" destinations and towards less visited destinations. In November, the BTA will publish its new Walking Map featuring national trails throughout Britain. The "Walking Campaign" will evolve over the next year into a broader initiative covering rural and countryside pursuits like walking and riding. Both these campaigns should bring benefits to Wales.

The Committee has noted in its report the role played by international festivals in attracting overseas visitors to Wales (paragraph 24). The Committee may be encouraged to learn that the British Council hopes to make use of the Hay festival in forthcoming years as an opportunity to showcase UK and Welsh literature to the British Council's overseas clients and contacts in the fields of literature and publishing.

Paragraph 29

We acknowledge the efforts made by the BTA to promote international tourism to all parts of the UK but we share the concerns of the NAW and WTB that an overriding target based on return on investment will, other things being equal, tend to favour the higher­cost and better­established UK tourist destinations. We recommend that the BTA's target for return on investment should be balanced by clear, measurable targets for the regional distribution of foreign tourists.

It has long been amongst BTA's responsibilities to seek to increase the regional spread of incoming tourists outside London. The most recent Funding Agreement between DCMS and the BTA, covering the period 2001-02 to 2003-04, now sets a measurable target for the Authority for the first time: to aim to increase year­on­year the proportion of additional spend that it delivers through visits outside London over the three­year period of the Agreement. The methodology for establishing a baseline and measuring outcomes are being developed over the current year.

The BTA has a number of responsibilities, e.g. assisting industry, developing longer­term markets, promoting less well­visited destinations, which do not directly contribute to maximising the rate of return on public investment (RoI) in the Agreement, and these are taken into account when the target level of RoI is agreed.

Paragraph 35

We recommend that the BTA and the WTB should develop a strategy for promoting Wales as a first­choice destination for foreign visitors to the UK. This should involve working with tour operators which bring foreign tourists into the country to try to persuade them to include Wales on more of their itineraries, and working with UK transport providers (such as the train operating companies) to promote the provision of efficient, affordable transport links between Wales and other UK tourist destinations.

The WTB published a strategy in 2000 which included as a central aim the task of developing a positive identity for Wales as an attractive tourism destination in target overseas markets. The strategy sets the industry challenging targets for increasing the number of overseas visitors to Wales up to the year 2010. On policy issues such as transport and Wales, WTB normally takes the lead, with BTA in support. However, the BTA is working very closely with the WTB to assist in the delivery of the overall strategy, particularly through developing a programme of marketing activities to increase awareness of Wales abroad, with the aim of stimulating a higher proportion of tourists to visit Wales during their stay in the UK.

The Government and the Assembly both have a contribution to make towards improving transport links between Wales and the rest of the UK, since responsibility for transport by rail, air and sea rests with the UK Government and responsibility for bus services and roads within Wales rests with the Assembly. The UK Government has set out plans for a substantial increase in investment to modernise and improve transport networks. The 10 Year Plan for Transport, published last year, announced significant additional funding for transport infrastructure and services over the next decade, which is likely to include improvements to many of the major road and rail links between England and Wales.

Teaching of English to international students is among the niche markets being promoted by the British Council to encourage foreign visitors to select Wales as a first choice destination. The British Council, in partnership with the WTB, promotes the nine British Council accredited English language centres in Wales through publicity campaigns, fairs and a website.

Paragraph 41

We welcome the creation by the Assembly of Cymru'n Creu, which aims to meet the kind of concerns about poor co­ordination expressed by many of our witnesses. It will be important for UK Government departments, and bodies such as UK Sport, the BTA and the British Council, to forge strong links with the consortium, as well as directly with their Welsh counterparts.

The Government agrees, and is pleased that the BTA is in the process of setting up a meeting with Cymru'n Creu, which it is hoped will take place in the autumn. UK Sport already has strong links with the Sports Council for Wales, which is represented on Cymru'n Creu, along with other Welsh Assembly­sponsored bodies. DCMS is encouraging UK Sport to make the appropriate contacts with Cymru'n Creu and to strengthen its links, building on the good relations already established with its Welsh counterparts. The British Council enjoys good relations with Cymru'n Creu and its Director in Wales has been invited onto the consortium.

The Government also welcomes the Committee's recognition of the positive model of co­operation which has been put forward by Wales Arts International. The partnership hopes, over the next few years, to extend its activities to include the training of young artists and to assist performers and artists in Wales to prepare themselves more fully to work in the international context, particularly through improved marketing tools.

Paragraph 48

Efforts to promote Welsh programmes and films internationally appear to be working well and witnesses from S4C cited several examples of positive assistance they had received from the Government and from ASPBs. Nonetheless, both felt that they might benefit from more support in some areas. We recommend that the Government examine, in conjunction with Sgrîn and S4C, ways in which it might be able to provide more support for the overseas marketing of Welsh films and television programmes, both inside and outside the context of overall UK promotion.

The Film Council is developing a strategy for the export of UK films. It will be doing so within the context of the Creative Industries Export Advisory Group. The Film Council is working closely with Sgrin and with the film organisations from Scotland and Northern Ireland to develop a UK statement for film. The Film Council will also be investing in training for producers in dealing with Hollywood.

The Government welcomes the recent trade mission to the Hollywood film industry, organised by WTI and attended by the First Minister.

The Television Exports Inquiry Phases I & II formed part of the programme of the Creative Industries Task Force, on which the Assembly was represented by the Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language, Jenny Randerson. Ms Randerson continues to represent the Assembly on the Task Force's successor group, the Creative Industries Ministerial Strategy Group.

Phase I of the inquiry made valuable recommendations both for the industry and for Government and we responded by drawing up a joint Action Plan. Phase II made recommendations for establishing the conditions necessary to enable UK creative talent to realise its full potential to satisfy the growing audio­visual economy. The findings of the report informed the Communications White Paper.

Positive progress has been made in several areas and in particular it has been encouraging to see how positively the industry responded to the inquiry's recommendations via the British Television Distributors Association (BTDA), of which S4C is a member.

The Government remains committed to working in partnership with the industry to improve the UK's export performance, including Welsh export performance, not only in television, but in all the creative industries.

Paragraph 49

We welcome the announcement in the Budget that the 100 per cent write­off of production and acquisition expenditure, on completion, for British qualifying films with budgets not exceeding ,15 million will be extended until 2005.

The Government welcomes the Committee's recognition of this measure.

Paragraph 51

While Wales­based bodies may already be alert to the benefits of promoting the language, we are not persuaded that this is always the case at UK level and we believe that it should be a guiding principle for all UK bodies involved in overseas promotion that the Welsh language is an intrinsic and inalienable part of Welsh culture and society, and that efforts to promote Wales as part of the UK should reflect this.

The Government agrees with the Committee that the Welsh language is an intrinsic part of Welsh

culture and recognises that, whilst responsibility for promoting the language generally rests with the National Assembly, there are areas where promotion of the language can be of benefit to the promotion of the UK as a whole.

The British Council is alive to the opportunities offered by the bilingual status of Wales within the UK and encourages the Welsh Language Board to make use of its network of offices and contacts overseas, in countries where issues of bilingualism, language planning and language in the community may lead to joint activity. In addition, the British Council welcomes the collaboration of the Welsh Language Board in the staging of its Conference entitled "Policies and Practices for Lesser Used Languages in Europe", to be held in Cardiff in October 2001 under the auspices of the European Year of Languages. The British Council continues to have an interest in promoting the Welsh language, both as part of its responsibility for language and as a human rights and equal opportunities issue.

The BTA works closely with Wales­based partners such as the WTB and the industry in Wales to promote Wales overseas. The BTA's own in­house guidance on understanding brands, >Living Britain', contains a section on Wales, which the WTB took the lead in developing. It mentions the Welsh language as a key component in establishing a distinctive Welsh identity for potential overseas visitors. The Government acknowledges that the opportunities to deploy the language itself in marketing contexts overseas are restricted. However, opportunities have been taken to mention the Welsh language, for example, in joint BTA/WTB promotional material, and to enable the words 'Wales' and 'Cymru' to appear together. In addition, BTA signposts tourists to key Welsh language events such as the International Eisteddfod, while the BTA's Britain Visitor Centre in London has Welsh language speakers available.

The Government welcomes the adoption of 2001 by the European Union and Council of Europe as the European Year of Language (EYL). The EYL will help to increase awareness of Europe's linguistic heritage and to motivate European citizens to develop plurilingualism.

The Government has signed up to the Council of Europe's Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and recognises that the encouragement and protection of such languages is important to the preservation of Europe's diverse cultural heritage. The Government has specified Welsh for the purposes of Part III of the Charter, which contains provisions for the active promotion of specific regional or minority languages in public life.

Other UK departments and public bodies will continue to assist the National Assembly to promote Welsh culture overseas wherever appropriate.

Paragraph 57

On the strength of the evidence we have taken we would not propose any changes to the present arrangements for co­ordinating bids for international sporting events from different parts of the UK. It appears that, while there is a sensible level of co­ordination, Welsh­sporting bodies cannot be prevented from bidding where they believe it is in their interests to do so.

UK Sport will continue to work with the relevant agencies in Wales on bids for major events, wherever appropriate.

Paragraph 59

Promoting Wales within the UK is an essential prerequisite to promoting Wales in the rest of the world. We must overcome ignorant and inaccurate stereotypes in Wales and the UK. The Assembly and the Wales Office both have a key role to play, but so do other Government departments and public bodies such as DTI, the DfEE, the Office for National Statistics and the BBC.

The Wales Office provides a voice for Wales at the centre of Government and plays a major role in promoting accurate and helpful perceptions of Wales.

Since devolution, the Wales Office has performed an important function in broadening understanding of the Welsh devolution settlement across Government and the UK as a whole ­ through regular liaison with policy makers in key areas of Government and in developing written guidance about devolution for use by policy makers, service deliverers and the public.

Another key function of the Wales Office is to explain Welsh needs and priorities to those who deliver services and policies for Wales. In particular, the Wales Office has been instrumental in ensuring that new Government legislation takes full account of Welsh needs and of the likely impact on the lives of Welsh people. The Wales Office also acts to ensure that Welsh interests are reflected in the distribution of Government finances.

An overarching aim of the National Curriculum for England is to develop pupils' knowledge, understanding and appreciation of their own and different beliefs and cultures, and how these influence individuals and societies. Teachers will address these issues across all subject areas.

Through the citizenship curriculum, to be introduced in 2002, all pupils in England will be taught about the diversity of national and regional identities in the UK and the need for mutual respect and understanding.

Study of significant individuals and events under the national curriculum for history includes aspects of the history of Wales, where appropriate. Similarly, locations in Wales may feature on the geography syllabus for 5­14 year olds.

The full national curriculum for England is available at and the Schemes of Work at

Where possible, the Office for National Statistics endeavours to provide geographical breakdown of national statistics to show figures for each of the UK's constituent countries, including Wales. This applies to compendia publications such as "Britain 2001 B the Official Yearbook of the UK" and "Regional Trends", as well as to publications issued by the Statistical Directorate of the National Assembly for Wales such as the bilingual "Digest of Welsh Statistics" and "Statistical Focus Wales".

In announcing the television license fee settlement in February 2000, Chris Smith, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, welcomed the fact that one of the BBC's four priorities was improving programming for the nations and the regions.

Paragraph 60

There are clear advantages to Wales from being included under the auspices of the international work of the UK Government. Equally, there are clear advantages of the Assembly and its sponsored public bodies carrying out independent promotion work. How effectively Wales is promoted abroad will depend largely on the strength of the working links between the Welsh and UK bodies, and maintaining and strengthening those relationships should be the top priority for all those concerned, though it should not be done in such a way as to restrict the Assembly's ability to pursue different policies and strategies from the Government.

The Government agrees that in order to promote Wales overseas with maximum effectiveness, the closest possible working links need to be fostered between the various agencies charged with carrying out that role. The Memorandum of Understanding and overarching agreements on European Affairs and International Relations, between the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, continue to provide the framework for such co­operation. These are reviewed each year by the Joint Ministerial Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister. Most UK Departments also have their own bilateral concordats with the Assembly, which may cover international activity.

The FCO and its posts overseas continue to assist the National Assembly for Wales to further its international activity. The National Assembly for Wales is one of the partner organisations in the Britain Abroad Task Force (BATF), the new public/private sector group established by the FCO and other public sector stakeholders to improve the promotion of the UK overseas. The BAFT is working closely with relevant bodies in all countries and regions of the UK. The Government is satisfied that non­departmental bodies such as UK Sport and BTA have excellent relations with their Welsh counterparts. This is an influential part of their business planning and Ministers will continue to encourage them to maintain this approach.

Paragraph 63

We welcome the inclusion of a provision for secondments between the National Assembly and the FCO in the Concordat on International Relations, but we do not believe that it goes far enough. The Government should actively encourage secondments between UK public bodies and their Welsh counterparts of all kinds and at all levels. The new target for the proportion of senior civil servants who have experience outside the civil service is welcome and we recommend that, for the purposes of evaluating whether or not the target has been met, secondments from the main Whitehall departments to the National Assembly for Wales and its sponsored public bodies should count as experience outside the civil service. We recommend that the Government should introduce a target for the proportion of UK posts overseas which have at least one member of staff who has some direct experience of working for the Assembly or another public body in Wales. This should apply not just to embassies and consulates but to offices of bodies such as the BTA and British Council.

The devolution White Paper, "A Voice for Wales", made clear that staff working in the National Assembly for Wales would remain part of the Home Civil Service, in order that the Assembly should continue to benefit from the high professional standards, expertise and integrity for which the British Civil Service is renowned. The White Paper went on to confirm that established arrangements for interchange with government departments and agencies would remain in place to ensure that the Assembly has a wide pool of talent and expertise at its disposal. As such, movement between the Assembly and another Civil Service organisation continues to count as a loan or secondment within the Service, rather than as experience outside the Civil Service.

The presumption set for those entering the Senior Civil Service is that people will have had experience both of frontline delivery or operational management, and of working in more than one culture. This presumption does not therefore preclude staff from broadening their experience in another Civil Service department.

The Wales Office acts as a major mover of civil servants between the National Assembly for Wales and central Government. Currently, 89% of Wales Office staff are permanent employees of the Assembly and of these, 36% are Cardiff­based Assembly staff on secondments of 2 to 3 years. Secondments are staggered so that there is a constant circulation of staff arriving from and returning to the Assembly.

As well as moving staff from the Assembly into central Government, the Wales Office has now begun to take staff on secondments from other UK Government departments. This gives staff who have previously had very little contact with Welsh affairs an opportunity to learn more about Wales and about the devolution settlement and to take this knowledge back to their home Department at the end of the secondment. The Wales Office currently has staff on secondment from the Department for International Development, the Inland Revenue and the Cabinet Office.

The FCO is committed to encouraging secondments into posts overseas. During the last financial year (April 2000 to March 2001), approximately 35 trawl notices for vacancies overseas were sent to the National Assembly for Wales. Vacancies included positions at First Secretary and Counsellor level in prominent posts such as Washington, UKRep Brussels and UKDEL Vienna. But since the FCO has no control over whether National Assembly staff choose to apply for such posts, the Government does not believe that an FCO target for National Assembly secondments would be productive. The FCO is, however, keen to consider with the National Assembly for Wales, ways by which they might encourage more of their staff to apply for secondments. Such appointments will continue to be made on merit, in line with the need to maintain the highest standards in both the Home Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service.

Tourist board staff have traditionally tended to move around between tourist boards and this includes movement between the BTA and WTB. While there does not appear to be a demonstrated need to boost further the process of interchange by producing specific targets, BTA is now encouraging greater "cross­fertilisation" by developing an enhanced secondment policy.

The British Council will actively pursue opportunities to facilitate secondments to and from other public bodies in Wales.

Paragraph 64

Training and briefing on Wales and Welsh issues is important for those overseas­based staff who are not able to undertake secondments. Wherever possible, the Government should arrange such training in conjunction with the National Assembly.

The Government agrees with this conclusion. The FCO already has a wide­ranging programme of training and briefing for its home and overseas staff, from junior grades up to senior officials and Heads of Missions. This includes: regular presentations on the Press and Public Affairs Officers courses for overseas staff; induction training for new mainstream and policy entrants; and briefing senior diplomats as part of their standard pre­posting programme. The FCO also includes a devolution element in its Ambassador/High Commissioner designate programmes, which may include meetings in one or more of the devolved administrations. More recently the devolved administrations have been involved in presentations at Heads of Missions Conferences. In addition, the FCO invited a working group of officials from the devolved administrations to its Press and Public Affairs Officer's Conference for European Union posts in Berlin this September. The FCO hopes to extend such invitations to similar conferences elsewhere.

The Wales Office has developed a role as a centre of expertise on devolution and constitutional change as it affects Wales, which has included participating in training and seminars with central Government departments. In addition, the Wales Office's international exchanges on constitutional affairs regularly involve staff of British overseas posts in helping to deliver events.

Paragraph 65

It should be recognised that participation by Assembly Ministers and officials in UK negotiating teams in Europe serves not only to ensure that Wales's interests are taken into account in the negotiations, but to raise its profile on the European stage.

The Government notes the importance which the Committee places on Assembly Ministers participating in UK negotiating teams in Europe and welcomes the fact that Ministers from the devolved administrations, including four from the Assembly, have attended and spoken for the UK at meetings of the Council of Ministers. This is provided for in the Memorandum of Understanding and overarching agreement on Co­ordination of EU Policy Issues between the UK Government and the devolved administrations.

In addition, and also in accordance with these agreements, Wales's interests are always taken fully into account in the preparation of the UK position, whether or not an Assembly Minister is expected to attend the relevant meeting.

Of course, an essential feature of the devolution settlements across the UK is that the final responsibility for policy and representation at European Council level remains with the Government of the United Kingdom.

Paragraph 68

Recognising that the decision as to where to locate its diplomatic and consular posts is always a matter for the country concerned, we recommend that the Government should continue actively to promote to London embassies the benefits of consular representation in Wales.

The FCO agrees that it is for the host countries and foreign embassies based in the UK to decide where they wish to establish consular representation. However, in his speech on Wales in the World at the Wales Forum in Newport on St David's Day 2001, the former FCO Minister, Brian Wilson, focused on encouraging consular links with Cardiff and the FCO has subsequently written to the London Diplomatic Corps asking them to consider establishing permanent consular offices in Wales. The FCO continues to liase with the National Assembly in arranging visits by foreign embassy staff to Cardiff.

Paragraph 69

St David's Day events - like St Patrick's Day events in Irish Embassies - should be a fixed part of the calendar of every UK Embassy.

Posts are encouraged to celebrate St David's Day where appropriate. This year around twenty posts celebrated the event from Paris to Osaka.

Paragraph 71

The provision of genealogical research services to those outside the UK, especially via the internet, is a promising way of reaching out to the Welsh community in the world, bringing them back into contact with their home country and helping to bolster the Welsh identity of second and subsequent generation emigrants. This is something which should be borne in mind when the Government and Assembly are considering funding for genealogical services.

The National Statistics website ( provides guidance and advice on how to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates from the Registration Service and also provides links to the main websites which would be of interest to anyone in the Welsh community conducting research into the family tree. These are:

Public Records Office (

Family Records Centre (

National Library of Wales (

Paragraph 75

We believe that the Wales Office should lead by example in the provision of information in the Welsh language on government websites, and it is a source of concern that it has allowed itself to be overtaken by some other Government departments and agencies. We understand that demand for translators is currently high and that the National Assembly's translation resources are stretched. It might be that there is a need to re­examine the prioritisation of the translators' work, or it might be that more resources are required to employ, and if necessary to train, new translators. In any event, we believe that it should be a high priority for the Wales Office to establish a fully bilingual website.

The Wales Office now has a Welsh version of its core website (at When the Wales Office was established in July 1999, the immediate priority was to launch a website which would be accessible to other Whitehall departments as well as to the Assembly and people in Wales. Completion of the Welsh language version of the site was, as the Committee suggests, delayed by heavy pressures on the National Assembly's translation and information technology services and it was eventually necessary to outsource translation and production. The Wales Office's translation needs are now met partly by the National Assembly's Translation Service under the terms of a service level agreement and partly by external translators.

In addition, is committed to providing information and services to every UK citizen in the most effective way possible. Citizens can choose to view the Welsh language version of the site. The UKonline portal is the only government­run internet service with links to external news providers and political parties. This realises the government's vision of transparency and inclusiveness. Those interested in Wales can, via the portal, access the full range of BBC Cymru services, newspapers and also The editorial team maintains a watching brief on new Welsh on­line services, linking where appropriate.

3,972 people have chosen the "Wales" option on the homepage since the beginning of March 2001. This constitutes 0.887% of the overall preferences. Within the next twelve months, users will be able to prioritise news from the National Assembly for Wales, Wales Office and other relevant government services, including local authorities. Once they have registered with the site, news relevant to them will be immediately presented upon login.

Paragraph 76

We commend the BBC on the establishment of Cymru'r Byd. It is an excellent service which, as the internet becomes more dominant as a means of international communication, will help to ensure that Wales has a strong internet presence.

The Government welcomes the Committee's commendation. The Government believes that other, longer established websites such as BBC News Wales and HTV Wales also deserve praise.

11 October 2001

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Prepared 24 October 2001