Orders of the Day — Welsh Courts Bill

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

From the debating point of view, this is an easy Debate to wind up. I want to say on behalf of my right hon. Friend and the Government how much he and the Government appreciate the reception that this Bill has had, apart from the help that has been given in its preparation and in deciding as to its form. There has today been almost complete harmony among the speeches, until, of course, a discordant note was struck by one of the Members for Monmouthshire with regard to whether poetry should be written in Welsh or English. It is possible that Wales, with its great imaginative resources, will be able to produce poets who write in Welsh and poets who write in English. One or two personal notes have been struck, and I should like to strike one and say that, as the spokesman who on behalf of the Government in 1938, on a Friday afternoon, spoke the concluding words in an unsuccessful attempt made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Wales (Mr. Ernest Evans) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), it gives me special pleasure to wind up this Debate when the differences which were then uncomposed have been composed and this Bill has been welcomed.

Those of us who sit in this House do not need to be told that people who speak Welsh may not also be able to express themselves adequately and fluently in English. My right hon. Friend, if I may call him so, the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), whose absence and the reason for it we all deplore, could not dispute that statement. I was interested, and I am sure the House was, to hear that my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) still thinks in Welsh. I will not go into the discussion as to whether my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary speaks French as well as he speaks English, because I have not enough evidence. Of course, there are people who can speak Welsh who would be perfectly happy in giving evidence in English, but there are undoubtedly cases of people who can understand and speak English in the ordinary sense who not only would be happier themselves but would give their evidence more clearly and efficiently if they were able to give it in what is really their natural language, the language in which, as some hon. Member said, they think and live. Therefore, this Bill, although it may not make a great difference to what actually happens, lays down that the language can be spoken as of right. It recognises that, and that is the thing which is welcomed by the House as the right and proper thing to do. It also has some significance that in the days in which we live we can turn aside from other matters to pass this Bill, recognising as it does, and remedying, a grievance based on the language differences of two nations which live together under the same King in happy concord.