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Supporting the Welsh language

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales

"The Welsh Conservative group recognises that the distinctive role of the Welsh Language Board needs to be preserved.

We need to listen to those who have experience of safeguarding the language since the board's inception. That will colour the review that we are undertaking to determine the status of ASPBs.

On the board's work with the private sector, we have now reached a point where people generally have a good understanding of what the WLB is about.

Through its work with the private sector, we have seen the growth of the use of the Welsh language in the workplace.

The WLB has successfully worked with companies such as Microsoft, bmibaby and Ikea, but more needs to be done.

I am sure that the WLB would argue that further investment needs to be put into, for example, expanding the successful Twf project, which offers practical advice to parents on speaking Welsh to their children, and into work with youths, particularly those who have already achieved a competency in the language.

The WLB would probably request more investment for its work with the private sector, where more staff are needed. Further research projects need to be undertaken to look at people's reluctance to use written Welsh, for example, and, in particular, at the translation industry in Wales.

Being a truly bilingual nation means that we need more translators, as well as research projects into automatic translation. The contribution of individuals at the editing stage of this is also important.

Before we can claim support for the idea of a bilingual nation, we need to review the translation services available to AMs. That includes terminology, which is always important because of the legal aspect of the work carried out in this institution.

The simultaneous translation in the Assembly Chamber is excellent: we are not debating that.

We welcome the fact that the WLB has finally agreed a Welsh language scheme with ELWa. The increase in the number of staff in ELWa's bilingual unit is also good news, but again, much work needs to be done to train and re-train tutors.

ELWa's responsibility for the Welsh language goes much further than the teaching of Welsh to adults. We feel that ELWa must grasp that.

We must safeguard the national eisteddfod. It has iconic value to our country and is a national treasure.

During recent years, this important cultural festival has been affected by foot and mouth disease, inclement weather and the fact that it moves between the south and north every year.

The Welsh Conservative Party would make a one-off payment of £100,000 this year to assist the eisteddfod in dealing with its funding crisis. That would be followed by an annual grant of £400,000 over five years. That would be dependent upon the eisteddfod's board adhering to an appropriate business plan, which would include developing a marketing strategy.

The steps that have already been taken by the eisteddfod to increase its appeal are welcome. However, more needs to be done to promote the festival nationally and internationally.

I know that the Minister met the Welsh Language Board and the eisteddfod last Saturday. The release of money to the eisteddfod from the WLB as a result of that meeting is most welcome. I understand that the WLB is also looking to release the final payment of the grant of £87,500, and we wait to hear more on that.

Will you assure us in the meantime, Minister, that you will continue to engage regularly in constructive dialogue with the eisteddfod and to work with it to try to ensure the festival's future?"

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