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Lord Stanley of Alderley: I thank the Minister for that answer. Perhaps I may first of all say that I did not put all those amendments together and I did not want them put together. They were complicated enough and they were rather too much of a mish-mash. I suppose what I am saying is that urban areas have more votes than rural areas, which is what concerns us. I fully accept what the Minister said about Amendment No. 113--that commissioners are merely draftsmen and therefore they can be lawyers, accountants and such like. I just wanted confirmation that that was their job. I am not quite so keen on parties deciding on who will sit on the committees, for the reasons I gave in my original speech.

I know that Welsh Food Promotion is a touchy subject, not only with the Secretary of State but also with farmers who have served on it. My telephone has been quite hot recently. I shall read carefully what the Minister said. I am not sure that it will entirely satisfy those who ring me up and so I may have to come back to the matter on Report. Meanwhile, I thank the noble Lord for his reply and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 103A to 103C not moved.]

Clause 33 [Support of culture etc.]:

Lord Elis-Thomas moved Amendment No. 104:


Page 21, line 23, after ("historical") insert ("or archeological").

The noble Lord said: It is a little early in the morning to discourse on the difference between "historical" and "archeological" as in my amendment but I would ask the Minister in his response to explain the wording of Clause 33(a) and to confirm that the archeological artefacts within the ownership of the Secretary of State

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and also others that are in private ownership but are conserved are to become part of the assembly's activity of support.

Amendment No. 105 was inspired by the rather uncharacteristic remarks at Second Reading of my noble friend Lord Moran. I have notified him of my intention to raise this issue. I declare my interest as chair of the Welsh Language Board. In his Second Reading speech he indicated (at col. 1092 of Hansard) that in its handling of the Welsh language the assembly should be careful not to go too far in imposing Welsh on everyone. I wish to make it absolutely clear that the policy of successive governments has been to extend the Welsh language by consent and by voluntary agreement through schemes with public bodies which obviously have a statutory force. But the implementation of those schemes has been continually by public consent on the basis of guidelines approved by Parliament. Clearly, the assembly will proceed on similar lines. Indeed, the linguistic clauses of the Bill are equivalent to those of the Welsh Language Act 1993.

My noble friend suggested that Clause 33, to which my amendment relates, would allow the assembly to promote the Welsh language and would create difficulties. He went on to instance his experience as High Commissioner in Canada and to talk of the militant language policy in Quebec and its effect on businesses. He then referred to "language police". He said:


    "I hope that we shall never see the introduction of language police in Wales, or the adoption of policies which are burdensome to business".

He concluded that part of his speech by saying:


    "Bilingual debates in the assembly, with simultaneous interpretation, will be practicable but they will be expensive".--[Official Report, 21/4/98; col. 1093.]

I wish to make it quite clear that I very much regret that those remarks were made in debate in this House. I fail to see where they come from. I have spent much time, along with my officials of the language board, in the county of Powys where my noble friend lives and in discussion recently at a seminar with Powys County Council. I can say that in that border area of Wales, where not much Welsh is spoken in most of the homes, there is strong support for the development of bilingualism among consenting adults both in public and in private.

Therefore, I hope that my noble friend will accept that the intention of the assembly is to be positive and to promote the Welsh language within the context of promoting the English language equally within Wales. It is about the promotion of two languages and not about one replacing another, whatever may be the unsuccessful policies pursued by some of my transatlantic colleagues in Quebec.

Finally, I turn to Amendment No. 202A which refers to standing orders and,


    "consideration to be given to the translation of information ... into languages other than Welsh and English".

It concerns the issue of languages in Wales which are spoken by significant numbers of communities but which are not official languages recognised as such

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either in this Bill or outwith it. I shall return to this matter at a later stage when we can talk at greater length about the concept of citizenship in Wales.

There is concern among certain members of the community in Wales. Members of our communities are described in a term which I would not personally endorse as "ethnic minority community members" and represent a small minority of the population. According to census figures it is less than 2 per cent., although that is a strange way of collating the figures. There is concern that they are not fully aware of the implications of the assembly for them as citizens and that they are not sufficiently included in the Secretary of State's inclusive formula for the assembly. I have had private discussions with the chair of the CRE in Wales, Commissioner Ray Singh, who is a distinguished lawyer and a member of the national advisory group. I know that he is very much aware of the need to ensure that all members of our communities feel that they are equal citizens of Wales. An indication that the assembly will be able legally to undertake activity in a limited way in other languages as well as Welsh and English would be helpful to indicate linguistic inclusiveness. I beg to move.

Lord Monson: I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, will not misinterpret my intervention as in any way a criticism of his specific amendments. But I would like to take this one opportunity of questioning the Government on the whole purpose of Clause 33, although had I realised at 10 o'clock that this amendment would not come up until after midnight I might well have preferred to remain in a state of ignorance.

Clause 33 theoretically empowers the assembly to do anything that it considers appropriate to support museums, the Welsh language, arts and crafts, and so on. But it cannot do literally anything which it considers appropriate since it has no legislative powers as far as primary legislation is concerned, although, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, reminded us one hour and 20 minutes ago, it does have certain powers of secondary legislation, but these are tightly circumscribed. So in essence virtually all that it can do as regards museums, historic houses and so forth is to decide on the optimum distribution of the £7 billion collectively at its disposal annually. This being the case, does not Clause 33 merely replicate in part Schedule 2, given that all the subjects deemed worthy of support and encouragement in Clause 33 are already devolved by the Bill? In other words, they are already listed in Schedule 2. I refer specifically to items 2, 3, 13, 18 and, to some extent, item 5. Clause 33 has a nice idealistic ring about it, but does it actually add anything of substance to the Bill?

12.30 a.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: As a former chairman of the steering committee of Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments for many years, I rise briefly to say that we always regarded archaeology as an integral part of history. It may not always have been so and that may be why we had a variety of bodies dealing with it: the Ancient Monuments Board, the Royal Commission, the National Museum and

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Cadw itself. One of the great achievements of Cadw was to co-ordinate all that activity and to bring all those involved together under its own umbrella, where, to the best of my knowledge, it rightly remains.

With regard to Amendment No. 105, I would be very wary of leaving out a direct reference to the Welsh language, although I appreciate what the noble Lord has in mind. I fear that there are too many people who would take advantage of the opportunity to disregard their statutory responsibility for the language.

Lord Prys-Davies: I rise to express my concerns about Amendment No. 105. I welcomed paragraph (c) of Clause 33, as it appeared to me to confer a right, if the need arose, for the assembly to take some positive steps to promote the policy of supporting the Welsh language where no specific power would otherwise be available for that. The Minister will no doubt correct me if I am wrong, but I have understood that there is no such power in the transfer functions orders made since 1964. Therefore, I very much welcome that provision.

I believe that if the amendment were carried, it might bring comfort to some people who believe that the Welsh language is already receiving too much support. If the Government accepted the amendment, that would not allay the anxieties about the Welsh language commitment of the assembly which I have heard expressed. There are those who are concerned that, with its budget under pressure, the language may suffer. To treat in 1998 the requirements of the Welsh language in Wales as if it were on a par with any other language spoken in Wales, as was the case 100 or even 50 years ago, or to treat it as if it were on a par with the French language in Canada is, in my view, right out of the question.


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