Agenda Item No. 4

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee: 16 October 2017

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills

 

"Striking the Right Balance: Proposals for a Welsh Language Bill" White Paper Consultation Document - Proposed Council Response

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To draw Scrutiny Committee's attention to the White Paper on proposals for a Welsh Language Bill (Appendix A) and to gain endorsement of a proposed Council response.

Recommendations

  1. That Scrutiny Committee endorse the proposed response at Appendix B.
  2. That the proposed response and the views of the Committee are reported to Cabinet on 23 October 2017 before the Council responds formally to Welsh Government.

Reason for the Recommendations

To ensure that the views of the Council are made clear to Welsh Government.

Background

  1. The Welsh Government is proposing to amend the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. This is as a result of a two-fold concern: that there is too much emphasis on regulation and not enough on promotion; and that the way the Welsh language Standards are currently made and enforced is too bureaucratic and time-consuming. The aim of the White Paper, out for consultation, is to strike the right balance. Responses to the White Paper are required by 31 October 2017.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The proposals cover the following broad areas:

What should be the Welsh Government's role in promoting the Welsh language and what national governance arrangements should be adopted, in relation to promotion and regulation?

What changes should be made to how the Welsh language Standards are made and enforced?

  1. The White Paper makes 10 broad proposals covering these areas. Appendix B lists those proposals and suggests a Council response for each one. Much of what is proposed is welcome, in particular the reduction in bureaucracy as regards the Standards. There remain however concerns about how the different elements of promotion and regulation of the Welsh language are treated, which national agency should be responsible for each, and the confusion that might still arise if these powers continue to be split between Welsh Government and the proposed new Welsh Language Commission.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. It is not anticipated that the proposals in the White Paper will add to the resources required to implement Welsh language provision. There may be a reduction in the costs of bureaucracy as a result of amendments to Welsh language Standards.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None directly relevant to this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The White Paper is currently being consulted on and will form a basis for subsequent legislation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None directly relevant to this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The White Paper relates directly to how the Welsh language is promoted and regulated.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Council's Corporate Plan includes actions to "work with partners to promote the use of the Welsh language" and to "implement the Welsh language Standards to improve access to services and information".

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not applicable

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Tel: 01446 709760

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Responsible Officer:

Paula Ham, Director of Learning and Skills