Public Appointments

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd May 1968.

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Photo of Mr Edwin Brooks Mr Edwin Brooks , Bebington 12:00 am, 2nd May 1968

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) whether he will publish in the Official Report a list of those appointments in national or local government service in Wales from which non-Welsh speakers are excluded; and if he will make a statement;

(2) whether he will take steps to end the practice whereby various public appointments in Wales discriminate against those of otherwise high ability on the basis of their inability to speak a minority language within the Principality.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I am not aware of any such discrimination. Appointments to public bodies in Wales for which I have responsibility are made on merit and the requirement of ability to speak Welsh arises only where the qualification is necessary for the proper performance of the duties concerned.

Information as to central and local government appointments calling for Welsh-speaking ability is not readily available and its collection would involve a disproportionate expenditure of time and money.

Photo of Mr Edwin Brooks Mr Edwin Brooks , Bebington

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in some of the more populated parts of Wales Welsh is almost as dead a language as Anglo-Saxon in England and discrimination against English-speaking applicants for jobs in such areas is little better than a protection racket designed to give jobs to the boys?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I am surprised at my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks). I have just told him that I have no evidence of discrimination. If he, with his interest in our affairs—which we welcome—can produce evidence, I will gladly look at it.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

We on this side of the House would like to take this opportunity of welcoming the right hon. Gentleman back to the Welsh Office. He is in no way a prodigal son. We wish him well in his efforts in the Cabinet in pushing forward matters of importance to Wales.

Was not the subject of the Question to some extent touched on during our discussions in the Welsh Grand Committee concerning the Report of the Hughes Parry Committee?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I am deeply grateful to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt). Mr. Llefarydd, r'wy'n hapus iawn heddiw. I know it is out of order to go on too long, but I merely said that I am happy to be in this office.

The question of discrimination has been gone into in great depth.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I, too, offer my congratulations and good wishes to my right hon. Friend.

With regard to the reference in Question No. 2 to a minority language, is my right hon. Friend aware that Welsh is the oldest living language in Europe and is so precious that many of us hope that it will go on for ever?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I understand, Mr. Speaker, that it is the language spoken in Heaven.

Photo of Mr Gwynfor Evans Mr Gwynfor Evans , Carmarthen

Is the Secretary of State aware that Welsh has been the only language spoken in most of Wales over most of its history and has been the only language of Government? Is he also aware that that would be the situation today if Welshmen had enjoyed self-government throughout the centuries?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I may add that it was this Government which, for the first time, gave equal validity to the Welsh language with the English language. As long as I am in this office I shall do all I can to ensure that those who want the facility to learn and speak it shall have it.

Photo of Mr James Jones Mr James Jones , Wrexham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter has been thoroughly considered in the Welsh Grand Committee and on the Floor of the House in connection with the validity of the Welsh language? Is he also aware that highest posts in the academic sector in Wales are held at present by persons who are unable to speak Welsh?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

It is equally true that some of the highest posts in England are held by those who do speak Welsh.