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 costsand 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 timeit
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
John Walter Jones
19 December 2001