Welsh Language

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill: Carry-over – in the House of Commons at 7:16 pm on 2 October 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 7:16, 2 October 2019

Diolch, Dirprwy Llywydd. [Interruption.] I thought it was worth an attempt. I congratulate my hon. Friend Glyn Davies on securing a debate on this important issue. He is a known champion of the Welsh language and campaigner for the right to use Welsh in the House; the Secretary of State for Wales has worked alongside him to see Welsh spoken in the Welsh Grand Committee.

This debate is timely as this is UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, the purpose of which is to raise awareness of the critical risks historic languages face and their value as vehicles for change, knowledge systems and ways of life. Indigenous languages play a crucial role in enabling communities to participate in their countries’ economic, cultural and political life.

My hon. Friend was absolutely right to say that this cannot be a matter of “devolve and forget”. The UK Government are committed to supporting the UK’s indigenous languages. As he touched on, Welsh is recognised as an official UK language and is one of the oldest living languages. It is also one of the greatest inheritances for our Union as a whole, so we have a responsibility to protect it and develop a strong future for it. We also have a duty to represent the communities we serve and to understand that, for many people, both fluent speakers and learners, the Welsh language forms an integral part of their identity—their British identity as well as their Welsh identity.

It is good to see that, far from what my hon. Friend’s essay concluded back in the 1960s, almost 30% of Wales’s population aged three and over now say they can speak at least some Welsh. We are therefore seeing progress towards the aspirations of Cymraeg 2050, which aims for there to be 1 million Welsh language speakers by 2050 and for the Welsh language to be part of everyday life in Wales, empowering and representing Welsh speakers and their communities.