Orders of the Day — Welsh Courts Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 14th October 1942.

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Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

I have lived in the same place as one who is considered by some people to be one of our best Welsh poets—Islwyn, who took his title From the mountain on which he lived Mynyd-dislwyn. He was a great poet, but he wrote in Welsh; he wrote about that great mountain that I know and love so well, but I do not know what he said about it. It seems to me that there have been no successful translations of these Welsh writings. I do not know whether it is more difficult to translate from Welsh, but at any rate, there are no good translations. However, I agree that if people speak Welsh, they should teach Welsh to their children. My mother-in-law used to speak Welsh to my wife and my wife used always to answer in English. I think that was wrong. I believe that the Welsh people should teach their children their own language, but I believe that the Welsh language as such, and in the sense I have described and in no other sense, has been overdone.

In conclusion, let me repeat that I welcome this Bill. A man ought to have this right in his own country. After all, we are the original inhabitants of this island. I do not speak the Welsh language, but I am a Welshman, with all the sentiment, feeling and pride of a Welshman. I believe that in his own country, if a man cannot speak English, he should be given the right to speak Welsh. For a long time we have had some sort of system by which a man, if he could not speak English, was allowed to speak his own language, and many times it has been necessary to canvass the court to find an interpreter. This Bill gets over that difficulty, and the interpreter is to be an official institution in the courts. This is all to the good. Let me say that I hope the Bill will lead to a Chief Secretary for Wales. Again, I am opposed to Scotland being ahead of us. I hope this matter will be pressed, too. However, for the moment I am pleased with the Bill.