Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Welsh Language Board


  I have heard that in evidence to your Committee on 18 December representatives of the Children's Society cited Devolution and the Welsh language as the reasons which had led to their decision to terminate their work in Wales. I would like to set the record straight with regard to the language.

  First of all, the Welsh Language Act itself does not place any requirement on Charities to fulfil their work through the medium of Welsh. Many have embraced the spirit of the legislation, however, and over 50 of these presented their intentions to the Board in the form of a voluntary language scheme. The Children's Society is one such body, and we endorsed their voluntary scheme on 29 July 1999 (see Annex). Not once since then has the Society sought to raise with the Board any concerns it had with regard to costs—and it seems rather disingenuous in the circumstances to cite language related costs as a prime reason for quitting Wales.

  Secondly, all of this needs to be looked at in the broader context of UN and European conventions and UK legislation in the field in which the Society operates. I attach an extract from their Welsh language scheme, which summarises some of this. The Human Rights Act and Care Standards Act 2001 now need to be added to the list. It seems to me that the Society has always been aware that some of its worth in Wales would be bilingual; indeed that has been its practice. It also strikes me that it faces similar linguistic challenges in its work in England, if it stands by its core values.

  As far as the Board is concerned, using the language as a reason does not ring true at all. The Society could have trimmed its language related activity at any time—it was best placed to consider the consequences, and we would have been happy to advise them had they contacted the Board.

  I'm copying this letter to other members of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, and to Members of the Assembly Culture Committee.

John Walter Jones

Chief Executive

19 December 2001

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