The Welsh Labour-led Government has “no idea” how to reach its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050, according to Shadow Welsh Language Minister Suzy Davies.
The Conservative AM was reacting to the news that the government has dropped its plan for a Welsh Language Bill that would have scrapped the role of the Welsh Language Commissioner.
“The bold ambition – supported by the Welsh Conservatives – to reach one million Welsh speakers in a generation seems to already be slipping away from reality because the Welsh Labour Government – again – have made a promise with no idea on how to deliver it,” she said.
“This is already clear in the fact that the number of students in teacher training able to teach in Welsh is at its lowest point in a decade, and that one-third of those are not training to teach in Welsh.
“Now that this Bill has been dropped, the Welsh Government need to outline clearly a new strategy that they believe will push Wales towards the bold ambition of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”
The Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, however, welcomed the news that the Government had dropped its plans for a Welsh Language Bill that they had warned would weaken language rights.
“This is excellent news. The Government should now get on with the work needed to deliver on its vision of reaching a million Welsh speakers,” said Chair Osian Rhys .
“It’s also vital that they press ahead with using their existing powers to extend the Standards to companies in the postal, energy, water, mobile phone and broadband sectors.
“Despite the good news today, we’ll be keeping a close eye to ensure there are no steps to weaken Welsh language rights in any way.”
Sian Gwenllian AM, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Education and Welsh said that she had argued from the outset that it would be “foolish” to present the Welsh Language Bill proposals.
“Over recent months, it became clear from thorough scrutiny in the National Assembly’s Culture Committee, chaired by Bethan Sayed AM, that the Welsh Language Measure 2011 had a positive impact on the Welsh language and the rights of its speakers,” she said.]
“Indeed, the evidence is clear and opinion is consistent that implementation of the current language act and to build on the foundations of the system is what is needed at this point.
“It seems that we need to turn our view now on far-reaching legislative changes in relation to the Welsh language in the field of education – particularly Welsh-medium education. There is now a new opportunity following dropping the Bill to investigate the possibilities of a Welsh Education Act.
“I have spoken to the Minister today who confirmed that the introduction of more standards will restart and that is very much welcomed. However, there is a definite need for certainty and a timetable for the work.
“The work has already been delayed for two years – Brexit or not, the work of placing Welsh language responsibilities – in the field of water and energy companies, buses and trains, housing associations and the welfare state, and telecommunications companies – cannot be delayed further.”
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