So, should we spend up to pounds 400k to translate written records of every Assembly meeting? Yesterday's Western Mail front page comment - arguing against massively increasing spending on translation of Assembly records at this time of austerity - prompted intense debate. Here, Chief Reporter Martin Shipton and Welsh lecturer Dr Simon Brooks give their views on whether this would be money well spent.YES says Dr Simon Brooks, lecturer in the School of Welsh at Cardiff University Cardiff University (Welsh: Prifysgol Caerdydd) is a leading university located in the Cathays Park area of Cardiff, Wales. It received its Royal charter in 1883 and is a member of the Russell Group of Universities. It has an annual turnover of £315 million. STRANGELY enough for a good old-fashioned language row, the debate about the Assembly's Record of Proceedings is not really about language.
It's about what it means to be a Welsh citizen.
There's something more going on here than Frustrated of Treganna complaining about the English-only gas bill.
In order to understand why the Record has become such an emotive issue we need to look at the history, and the meaning, of the Assembly itself.
The Assembly is integral to the national aspirations of the people of Wales - and this in itself makes any downgrading of the Welsh language Welsh language, member of the Brythonic group of the Celtic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. See Celtic languages.
Celtic language of Wales. a hot potato hot potato
A problem that is so controversial or sensitive that those handling it risk unpleasant consequences: gun control .
But devolution also promised more inclusive politics.
The Assembly would be a "civic" institution with a statutory responsibility to promote equality. Buzz words like "transparency" became part of our politics, and our architecture too.
The Senedd was built in glass to remind politicians that their deliberations are to be open, accessible and easily visible.
We can see how equality in the Assembly has been important in other fields. Although women are less well represented than men in many work places, securing parity for women in the Assembly was of peculiar significance. It became symbolic of the sort of society Wales wanted to be, as well too as setting an example to the rest of the public (and private) sector.
This in essence is the argument for a fully bilingual Record of Proceedings. It symbolises the sort of society we want to become - and to exclude the Welsh language from this vision is deeply hurtful to tens of thousands of ordinary Welshmen and women.
We could of course spend the money on something else: Jubilee parties, Olympic football, or even on the language itself, Welsh-language play groups perhaps. But budget lines never work like this, and money 'saved' on Welsh will simply disappear into the stomach of the beast. Despite slashing its expenditure on Welsh language services over the past three years by 14%, the Assembly Commission's budget continues to rise, and will do so by another 6% next year.
We are fortunate that international models exist which show how other legislatures deal with bilingualism. In a recent report, the Assembly Commission chose to concentrate on two examples: Ireland, and the Canadian province Noun 1. Canadian province - Canada is divided into 12 provinces for administrative purposes
province, state - the territory occupied by one of the constituent administrative districts of a nation; "his state is in the deep south" of New Brunswick New Brunswick, province, Canada
New Brunswick, province (2001 pop. 729,498), 28,345 sq mi (73,433 sq km), including 519 sq mi (1,345 sq km) of water surface, E Canada. where the linguistic balance between English and non-English speakers is similar to that in Wales.
In Ireland, proceedings are kept verbatim - ie words are only recorded in the language spoken.
This is not a suitable model in Wales, as it would prevent English-speakers from following contributions made in Welsh.
It is worth remembering that translation in the Assembly is not only about spending on the Welsh language - it secures the rights of English-speakers too.
The Canadian model is more ambitious and makes provision that 'the records, journals and reports of the Legislative Assembly and its committees shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative'.
In wanting the Assembly's proposed Official Languages Bill to state in primary legislation how it intends to operate as a bilingual institution, Assembly Members are not living in some parallel universe.
They are simply following international best practice from a largely English-speaking Western democracy with a similar legal history to our own and where, it might be added, schools deliver good education, hospitals are efficient and the trains run on time.
There are costs involved, but they aren't huge and the advantages of having an engaged citizenry in any democracy are obvious. Having the Queen as Head of State, Canadians will even be able to celebrate the Jubilee - bilingually of course.
NO says Western Mail Chief Reporter Martin Shipton OUR front page comment in yesterday's Western Mail was, very clearly, neither an attack on the Welsh language nor a call for no public money to be spent on promoting it.
It was a plea for some rigorous spending priority decisions in a period of austerity. Let's remind ourselves what this is about.
The National Assembly is considering a new law that will govern the way it deals with the Welsh language.
The Bill is necessary because the previously passed Welsh Language Measure specifically excluded the Assembly itself from its remit.
The Assembly Commission, which runs the legislative arm of our democratic national body, wants to continue publishing a fully bilingual version of the Assembly's Record of Proceedings - in other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , the transcript of the two plenary sessions a week that take place on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
The draft Bill does not include a clause placing on obligation on the Assembly Commission to translate all meetings - of committees, public hearings etc - into Welsh.
That is the position we support.
However, members of the communities, equality and local government committee have recommended that the Bill should be amended so that the transcripts of all committee meetings etc should be translated into Welsh.
This would bring the total cost of translation close to pounds 400,000, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. estimates from senior Assembly sources.
Our point is quite simply that at a time of austerity, when public services Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. are being cut and the poorest people in Wales are expected to pay more in council tax because benefits are being cut, it is inappropriate to increase the cost of translation by such a significant amount.
No-one reading yesterday's comment piece, written by me under a brief from the editor, could reasonably accuse us of being anti-Welsh or anti-Welsh language.
Yet that is the charge we faced from some people, including politicians, who tweeted even before they would have been able to read it in full.
Yesterday lunchtime I participated in the BBC Radio Wales BBC Radio Wales is the BBC's national radio station broadcasting to Wales in the English language. Operated by BBC Wales, it began broadcasting in 1978 following the demise of the old "Radio 4 Wales" (previously the Welsh Home Service) when BBC Radio 4 became a national network and phone-in programme hosted by Jason Mohammad Jason Mohammad (born Cardiff), is a Welsh radio and television presenter for BBC Wales Biography
Mohammad was born and raised in Cardiff, going to school at Glyn Derw High. . One caller accused me of giving her a panic attack, before admitting that she hadn't actually read what I had written. Another accused me of being anti-devolution before I pointed out that the Western Mail had campaigned for a Yes vote in last year's referendum on more powers for the Assembly and I had actually written a book on the subject.
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru
the Welsh nationalist party [Welsh] AM Bethan Jenkins Bethan Jenkins (born 9 December 1981 in Aberdare, Wales) is a Plaid Cymru Member of the National Assembly for Wales represening the South Wales West Region. Background - one of the committee members who advocates spending more money on translation - came on the programme to attack us, but admitted she had voted for the recommendation without knowing how much it would cost to implement it.
All sorts of difficult decisions are having to be taken because of the spending cuts being imposed by the UK Government. When Dafydd Elis-Thomas was Presiding Officer at the Assembly, the Assembly Commission's budget went up and down roughly in proportion to the Welsh block grant from the Treasury. That practice has now been jettisoned.
Last week we expressed serious concern that while the Welsh Government was having to impose real cuts in public services, the Assembly Commission's indicative budget for next year shows a planned rise of 6.8%.
We argued against spending money on an unnecessary scheme to do up the foyer of the Assembly's Ty Hywel office block in Cardiff Bay.
Imposing extra translation duties on the Assembly Commission would force its budget up even further. At this time, in the context of public spending cuts affecting Wales' most vulnerable people, that is something that in all conscience we could not support.
* Inside the Senedd where spending decisions are made