Taking account of local government boundaries

Part of Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement 9:25 am, 30th June 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I rise to support the arguments made by the hon. Member for Ceredigion about the ties that are the Welsh language. I do not think it is possible to overstate the fact that the Welsh language is a cornerstone of Welsh identity. Although in the past we have seen a decline in the Welsh language, that is now reversing with the Welsh Government’s target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050. The hon. Gentleman’s arguments may one day become quite irrelevant if Wales is entirely full of Welsh speakers.

We have previously referred to the Council of Europe’s Venice commission, which recommends that boundaries be drawn

“without detriment to national minorities”.

Welsh language speakers are a national minority who require protection within this legislation. Welsh language ties are an important part of identity, and I would like the Minister to provide some clarity about the use of the Welsh language as a factor in the commission’s decisions. Language is an indicator of local ties. Although I do not speak Welsh myself—dwi ddim yn gallu siarad Cymraeg—and my life is probably all the poorer for it, I recognise the importance of the Welsh language to the Welsh identity, as does the Labour party. I therefore congratulate the hon. Member for Ceredigion on having tabled this amendment.