Welsh and English become official languages of Assembly as AMs pass historic Bill

Published 03/10/2012   |   Last Updated 14/07/2014

Welsh and English become official languages of Assembly as AMs pass historic Bill

3 October 2012

The National Assembly for Wales has passed the Official Languages (Wales) Bill into law.

In recognising Welsh and English as the official languages once it receives Royal Assent, the Bill will place a statutory duty on the National Assembly for Wales and the Assembly Commission to treat both languages on the basis of equality.

“This is an historic day in the history of devolution and of Wales,” said the Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM.

“Both Welsh and English will now be considered official languages in Assembly proceedings. The Bill places a statutory duty to put them both on an equal footing in the delivery of the services the Commission provides to the Assembly and the public.

“We are committed to delivering exemplar bilingual services. This Bill outlines the principles that will underpin the Commission’s approach to deliver even better bilingual services. Our commitment to the Welsh language can no longer be questioned.

The Commissioner with responsibility for the Welsh Language and the passage of the Bill, Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:

“The Bill sets an example for organisations working across Wales within both the public and private sectors about how to approach bilingualism.

“As the Member in charge of the Bill, and on behalf of the Commission, I would like to thank Assembly Members and the public for working together with us on its development. We have listened, and are confident that this legislation makes our responsibilities and our commitment clear for all to see.”

The Bill places a duty on the Assembly Commission to draw up a Welsh Language Scheme to ensure the equal status of both languages.

The scheme:

  1. ·states clearly that Welsh and English are the official languages of the Assembly and should be treated equally;

  2. ·outlines the practical arrangements to enable the Assembly to operate bilingually;

  3. ·guarantees the right of anyone who takes part in Assembly proceedings (witnesses and officials as well as Members) to do so in either of the Assembly’s official languages;

  4. ·outlines how the Assembly will provide bilingual services to the public;

  5. ·outlines how the Assembly’s corporate arrangements enable and support its ambitions to deliver bilingual services; and

  6. ·explains the Assembly’s procedure for dealing with complaints of non-compliance with the scheme, whether made by Members or by the public.

“Our Scheme will demonstrate an innovative and pragmatic approach to the development of bilingual services and build on the high quality exemplar services we currently provide,” Mr Glyn Thomas added.