Welsh Language

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill: Carry-over – in the House of Commons at 7:02 pm on 2 October 2019.

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Photo of Glyn Davies Glyn Davies Conservative, Montgomeryshire 7:02, 2 October 2019

I thank the hon. Lady, and I would like to return to that point, if I may, in the last sentence of my speech.

Welsh language policy is devolved, but devolution is not totally clearcut in all areas. There are opportunities within the devolved settlement to promote the language here at Westminster. Today, I believe the Secretary of State for Wales has committed Government investment to mid-Wales as part of the mid-Wales growth deal— £55 million towards a total investment of £200 million. The programmes will be guided by Ceredigion and Powys County Councils, but I hope the investment will be able to take into account the impact on the language and support the language. I very much hope that there will be an opportunity for input from the MP for Montgomeryshire, and even perhaps from an ex-MP for Montgomeryshire—who knows?

Finally, I want to finish with another personal reflection on life, and what happens in life when we grow older and start to ask ourselves who we are as an individual and where we come from, perhaps when sitting by the fence in the garden, enjoying a glasiad o gwrw and thinking about life. For me, it was when a lifetime of playing rugby and squash and running was coming to an end, and perhaps it was the lectures from my nain about the disgrace of my not being able to speak Welsh striking home after 40 years, and not being able to communicate with all of my family. I remember not being able to communicate at all with great-nain, who lived in Dolanog and was monolingual Welsh. She was one of the very last people who could speak only Welsh. I do not know whether there is anybody left now, but she died when she was 97 and she was one of the last, and I could not speak with her.

Anyway, I decided to learn Welsh, and because I became sufficiently fluent to appear on Welsh media quite a lot, many people now engage me on the street in Welsh, in Welshpool, Newtown and all over the place. It is incredibly satisfying. It is just reward for struggling over to Millbank or College Green on a cold, wet, frosty morning at half-past 7 to speak to the audience of “Post Cyntaf”. To me it is a huge reward and makes it all worthwhile. I am going to miss it when I am not here.

We Welsh MPs must resist a “devolve and forget” attitude. I sometimes think it is so easy for Ministers, when the pressure is on them to deal with what is on their desk that day, to devolve something and then suddenly take it off the agenda and forget about it. We must not do that. Welsh language policy may be devolved, but we retain a responsibility for it. We must not just put Welsh language policy in a box. It is an issue for every Department, not just the Wales Office.

Welsh is a Great British language. It is older than English. Backing the Welsh language is backing the Union. I hope that is not seen as too controversial. It is what makes Wales special. Yes, we have wonderful Welsh landscapes, wonderful mountains and really wonderful Welsh people, but other parts of the United Kingdom have special landscapes with special people and special mountains. In my view, where Wales is unique in the UK is that we have our own distinctive, widely spoken Welsh language. We must never, ever forget that.