Major Milestone For The Welsh Language - Sweeping New Rules Require State Services be Provided in the Celtic Tongue

On assuming her post as Language Commissioner in 2012, Commissioner Meri Huws stated: “I will be a voice for the Welsh Language, acting on behalf of Welsh speakers. That is my promise.  As I prepare to undertake this work, my vision is of Wales where the Welsh language is central to public life, where Welsh speakers have the confidence to use Welsh and trust in the law to right any injustice they may suffer for using the Welsh language."  Huws continues to live up to her words.  

The BBC report that Commissioner Huws is urging the Welsh Nation to "...feel confident..." that they can use the Welsh Language in communication with public bodies. This follows the implementation of a directive issued by the Commissioner in October 2015.  At that time Transceltic reported that the Language Commissioner took aim at the public sector with a decisive display of the powers contained in the Language Commissioners brief. Huws ruled that government services provided across the public sector must be offered in Welsh on the same footing as English.  The impacted state agencies had been given six months to draft and implement standards required to be met by March 2016.  Huws is quoted in multiple news accounts as follows: “This is the first time I have used my powers under the Welsh Language Measure by giving notice to the first round of organisations to comply with Welsh language standards.”

The BBC quoted Language Commissioner Huws urging Welsh Speakers to feel confident they can use services through the medium of Welsh at a number of public bodies now that new rules have come into effect. Huws is quoted stating that 26 bodies must now meet Welsh language standards, making certain services available in Welsh. The impacted organizations include the Welsh Government, Local councils and the three National Parks.

In future the rules will be extended to apply to other organizations incuding private firms. " The regulations, which came into force on Wednesday, include requiring bodies to make it clear that they welcome correspondence with the public in Welsh and giving the language priority on bilingual signs. They also give employees new rights to use Welsh in the workplace." - Speaking to BBC Radio Cymru's Post Cyntaf programme, Ms Huws said the changes were "exciting".

Do not underestimate the impact of these actions on the viability of the Welsh language.  The new guidelines have profound implications for the long term health of the Celtic tongue of Wales. It will force private companies and state agencies to ensure availability of Welsh speaking staff to provide services in Welsh.  This in turn enhances the economic benefit of Welsh proficiency as more jobs would require Welsh language skills, thus giving advantage to Welsh speakers in the market place.  In the final analysis it is economic relevance that is the foundation of a vibrant healthy language.


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