The government confirmed yesterday that it would bring forward a motion to allow MPs to speak the language when the Welsh grand committee meets in Westminster, despite rejecting the change last year on cost grounds. The committee, made up of all 40 MPs representing Wales, meets every two months.
Chris Bryant, who campaigned for the change when he was shadow leader of the Commons, said he was “very pleased. I grew up in Spain where Franco made it illegal to speak Catalan and Basque, so minority languages have always been something I’m passionate about. One of parliament’s oldest rules is that the language is English. So this is a welcome change.”
Although Mr Bryant does not speak Welsh, the MP for Rhondda said he was “looking forward” to watching debates in the language. “We will be able to witness the Welsh grand committee change into the Welsh grandstanding committee,” he added.
Asked whether he would campaign for Welsh to be spoken in the Commons chamber Mr Bryant said he would not. “You’d have to have simultaneous translation and that would be very costly. Parliament has enough complications with microphones, cameras and too few seats, it doesn’t need an added complication.”
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London