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WALES: Hand over language law powers to AMs; ACTIVISTS PUT THEIR CASE TO COMMONS COMMITTEE.

Byline: By SAM LISTER Parliamentary Correspondent

ALL powers to legislate over Welsh language provision should be handed to the Assembly, MPs will be told today.

Giving evidence in Welsh to a Commons committee - the first witnesses to do so since 2006 - Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, will call for a full transfer without restriction.

The Welsh Affairs committee is scrutinising an LCO (Legislative Competence Order) that would give the Assembly law making powers that would mean all utility companies had to provide a bilingual service in the country.

That has already raised concerns among the business community who claim that the current economic climate is not the time to put extra pressure on companies.

But the campaign group insists they have research outlining the inequalities that exist within currentWelsh language services and findings that show people want Cardiff Bay to have full control to make changes.

Chairwoman Menna Machreth said: "We will be emphasising that the right to legislate over the Welsh language are transferred completely from London to Wales.

"We will also make the case that the scope of the LCO draft should be expanded, ensuring that we have enough powers in Wales to legislate upon suppliers of goods, services and public utilities within Wales as we see fit in the future.

"We do not want to return time after time to London, to ask for more powers when the time will come to legislate in Wales following further linguistic developments in the future, which is certain to happen over the next few decades."

The organisation wants the AMs to be able to create laws that would mean supermarket chains, bus companies, banks and tax companies operated bilingually in Wales.

It is understood that some senior Labour politicians are less than keen on the plans but because of the power-sharing deal in the Assembly have little choice but to support the move.

CBI Wales will also be giving evidence at the session this afternoon.

Ms Machreth added: "We will insist that there is a clear emphasis on the right to use the Welsh language within every aspect of life in Wales The right to education through the Welsh language and the right to use the language in the workplace is central to this point.

"We will also be presenting evidence that disproves the CBI's suggestion that large companies will leave Wales, if there is legislation implemented to ensure that bilingual services are expected under a New Welsh Language Measure.

"We believe that the opposite is true."

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Menna Machreth
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 23, 2009
Words:424
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