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Mr. Simon Thomas: Will the hon. Gentleman join me in welcoming the fact that the CRE will contribute to the conference next Tuesday on the future of the Welsh language in Wales and the role of our Welsh-speaking communities? I am sure that he also welcomes the way in which the CRE is exploring these issues with Welsh language communities.
Many of us were brought up on a heady diet of Welsh internationalism. I believe that the children's hymn "Draw, draw yn China" was an internationalist hymn not an imperialist one. For us, Elfed's words:
Gwell yw caru'r gread gyfan",
It is better to love the whole world",
The anti-fascist Jack Roberts, known locally as Jack Russia, born in Penrhyndeudraeth, captain in the international brigades and organiser of the national eisteddfod at Caerphilly, and Tom Jones, known throughout Wales as Twm Sbaen, a Franco prisoner from Rhosllanerchrugog and founder of the Wales TUC, are not details of history but the very essence of Welsh history and indeed world history, as is Eunice Stallard, who was born in Ystradgynlais. She collected money for Basque refugee children in the 1930s and was a founder of the Greenham women's peace camp. Emma Goldman, the Russian-American socialist writer, a frequent visitor to my constituency in Briton Ferry and Cwmafan, was given British citizenship by the comradely gesture of marriage by James Coltman, a Glanaman miner from Carmarthenshire.
Wales ignores its proud internationalist history at its peril. There are many lessons to be learned. Many great radical movementsthe peace movement, the anti- apartheid movement, the green movement and the trade union movementhave their origins in the distinctive social justice and internationalist, welcoming and tolerant traditions of Wales.
When I want to think of Wales at its best, I think of our relationship with Paul Robeson and the causes of peace and justice which he espoused. It is thoroughly appropriate that "Let Paul Robeson sing!", the exhibition currently touring Wales, is funded by the National Assembly and local authorities, and the plans to take it to countries beyond Wales are most welcome. I hope that in time it will come to the Houses of Parliament.
I also think of Gregorio Esteban, who was born in Baracaldo in northern Spain, who taught Spanish through the medium of Welsh in Abercraf's miners' welfare hall, and of Salay Rahman, a founder of the Port Talbot Muslim Welfare Association and the Afan community credit union. Both were proud of their culture and faith, and proud to be Welsh.
I also think of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, which is in Cardiff's temple of peace. It has for decades played a vital role in communicating Wales and Welsh aspirations to the world, and conversely explaining to Wales important contemporary, global, social, economic and cultural changes. The centre places strong emphasis on world citizenship, international youth
I turn now to how we safeguard, portray and enhance the Welsh language, and how it is perceived internationally in cultural and commercial terms. We should be more confident in explaining how the Welsh language is very much part of modern Wales. The diligent work of bodies such as Cyd, Pont and the Urdd is largely unsung beyond Wales, yet but for their work and that of the Welsh-medium and bilingual pre-school and school movement over the decades, the language would not be as strong as it is today.
There is a danger that that benign, positive work will be eclipsed by other well-meaning and perhaps not so well-meaning forces. I am pleased that Neath Port Talbot county borough council is to welcome Europe's largest youth festival next year, the Urdd Eisteddfod, in my locality, and I am proud to be one of its vice-presidents. Locally, nationally and internationally, the event will give great impetus to the Welsh language as a language of the future, and as one that takes its place with equal status alongside other languages in Britain.
I end on a contemporary note: Wales in Europe. Welsh involvement in the European Union has always been positive. It was particularly so in the 1980s, through structural funds in assisting rural, urban and valley communities which experienced enormous economic and traumatic changeclimaxing of course with the sad recognition that west Wales and the valleys had achieved objective 1 status.
Two major challenges are before us: the single currency and EU enlargement. Quite simply, the single market needs a single currency. From a Welsh perspective, the case for entry is comprehensively made in the recently published pamphlet "Wales in Europe", which emphasises safer jobs, more foreign trade and investment, and higher standards of living. The single market, the single currency and European enlargement are very much in both the internationalist traditions and the contemporary interests of the Welsh people, in achieving what Paul Robeson called peace, dignity and abundance for all.
Given the implications for Wales's image in the world, I should, however, first say a few words about the problems that occurred outside Ninian Park in my constituency after last night's second division play-off between Cardiff City and Stoke City. It would be wrong to exaggerate what happened or to tar all the Cardiff City supporters with the same brush. Indeed, problems were created by Stoke fans in the first leg. However, I say to those who were involved in any violence or disturbance that everyone understands the bitter disappointment of last night, following such a magnificent recent run, which was helped by the fantastic support of Cardiff City fans, but if such incidents are repeated, they will begin to threaten all our ambitions to see Cardiff in the premier leaguein football and, indeed, in every sense.
I draw the House's attention to early-day motion 1177, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan). I thank other hon. Members across the House, from Wales and beyond, who have given it their support. It commends Cardiff's bid to be European capital of culture in 2008. I also wish to draw hon. Members' attention to the fact that the bid document from Cardiff is now available and being circulated. An event will be held here in the House on 21 May to promote the bid to Members, and I ask them to make every effort to attend.
Cardiff's bid for European capital of culture highlights the transformation that has taken place in our capital city in recent years. Billy Connolly's recent programme, which showed his natural reaction to the changes that had taken place since he last visited the city, confirmed their radical nature. The statistics bear that out: the official mid-year estimate of Cardiff's population in 2000 was 327,500, which shows a population growth since 1991 of 9.2 per cent., compared with population growth in Wales as a whole of 1.9 per cent. and in the UK of 3.4 per cent. Given that the 2001 census is expected to confirm that the population of Wales is some 3 million, the metropolitan area of Cardiff hosts half the nation's population. Cardiff is also a cosmopolitan city. It is estimated that 2.3 per cent. of the population is black, 2.8 per cent. Asian, and 2 per cent. Chinese or other ethnic group.
The bid is important for the image of Wales for several reasons. For most of its history, Cardiff, as many hon. Members will know, was a relatively small village. It had Roman remains, having been built on a giant mud-pat where three rivers meet the Bristol channel. Greater historians than me will know that towns such as Merthyr, at the time of the 1830 rebel rising, and Newport, at the time of the Chartist rising in 1839, were much more important than Cardiff. It was in the second half of the 19th century, when the population graph for Cardiff was rising at a right angle, that the city grew rapidly. Had that population growth continued, the population of Cardiff today would be 20 million.
It was coal, and the valleys of south Wales, that were responsible for Cardiff's development. Coal was also responsible for the multicultural nature of the modern Cardiff, with all the different languages that are spoken and the influences from across the world, including Somalia and Yemen. Powerful European influences are also at work. One of Cardiff's most famous sons, Roald Dahl, wrote in his book "Boy":
In the 20th century, population growth slowed as the coal industry gradually declined. However, Cardiff had established its position as Wales's premier city. That position was cemented with events such as the 1927 FA cup final victory of Cardiff City over Arsenal. That was 75 years ago, almost to the day. Arsenal are playing in the final on Saturday, but not against Cardiff City, sadly.
Like many other British cities, Cardiff suffered in the second world war, but it also opened its arms to the world. As part of the city's bid to be capital of culture in 2008, residents of the Penalun house Jewish retirement home are writing a great Cardiff poem:
Back in Germany we were Jews.
Here, though, no one called us names.
Here in Cardiff we were welcomed."
Cardiff was made the official capital of Wales in 1955, although it had been unofficially recognised as such for many years. Three years later, the Commonwealth games were held there. In the 1970s, the city was most famous for hosting the great rugby matches of that era, which included those involving the famous Welsh side of Barry John and Gareth Edwards, both of whom played for Cardiff rugby club.
There was a renaissance in the city during the 1980s and 1990s, with the redevelopment of Cardiff bay. My predecessor once spoke in the House for two hours and 40 minutes in opposition to the Cardiff bay barrage. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) went as far as to invent an endangered species, the Grangetown barking rat, to try and build opposition to the barrage. He was not successful, and the bay development is now almost complete. It has transformed the area, which was in decline after the coal industry in Wales almost completely disappeared.
In 1999, the Millennium stadium was built for the rugby world cup, and democratic devolution came to Wales. That has meant that Cardiff has become a real capital, perhaps for the first time. The city also hosts the FA cup final.
The cultural and economic renaissance of our capital city is accompanied by a political one, with the realisation of Keir Hardie's vision of home rule, which we now call devolution. However, the city needs to reach out more to the rest of Wales, and to reach out, with Wales, to the rest of the world. That is what today's debate has been about.
Cardiff has not reached out enough in the past. Perhaps its cosmopolitan history means that the city has taken for granted the rest of Wales and the rest of the world. The bid for culture capital status is a way of reaching out, as it is being made on behalf of Wales as a whole, not on the city's behalf alone. It seeks to emphasise Cardiff's links with the rest of Wales, and the cultural achievements of Wales as a wholenorth, south, east, west, city and countryside. It is an inclusive bid, which is why it has attracted so much support from Welsh Members of Parliament.
Many of the events planned will be Wales-wide, and will not be restricted to Cardiff. They will include events involving the Pop Factory at Porth in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Bryant), who was here earlier, and the Merthyr movie film project,
Cardiff's bid will emphasise the youthfulness of Cardiff as a capital city in a devolved Wales, as well as the country's European links and cultural values. It will involve co-productions and exchanges with other countries across Europe. The communities of Cardiff and other parts of Wales will be included.
The great Cardiff poem is being compiled in conjunction with, and with the assistance of, the Welsh writers academy. Anyone visiting Cardiff can see the poem as a work in progress in the old library centre, where the bid headquarters is stationed.
The bid will emphasise inclusivity, diversity and multiculturalism. It will emphasise the languages of WalesWelsh and English, of course, but also the other languages of ethnic minority communities so often heard in Cardiff and other parts of Wales.