Explains what the Commission for Welsh-Speaking Communities will discuss.
The specific work of the Commission for Welsh-speaking Communities is to make recommendations to strengthen public policy in relation to linguistic sustainability in Welsh-speaking communities and use of Welsh as a social/community language in different fields.
The Welsh language belongs to all of Wales, and indeed is spoken outside Wales too, and the work of the Commission will take place within the context of the sustainability of the Welsh language wherever it is spoken.
Nevertheless, the Welsh Government believes that the continuance of Welsh as a community language in neighbourhoods where it is the language of the majority of the population, or where this has been true until relatively recently, is important to the national strategy of increasing the use of the Welsh language, as well as attaining the target of a million speakers by 2050. Achieving a million Welsh speakers will be much more difficult if there is substantial linguistic deterioration in the strongholds of the Welsh language.
The decision of the Welsh Government to establish the Commission for Welsh-speaking Communities is thus to be understood with the context of its national strategy to promote the Welsh language.
The Commission for Welsh-speaking Communities is not charged with establishing a Gaeltacht for the Welsh language – that is to say, it will not divide the country into two linguistic zones. Rather, it will emphasise that Welsh is a language for the whole of Wales, but that it may be necessary to adopt different ways to promote it in different parts of Wales to achieve the goal in the most effective manner.
For example, it may be necessary to discuss the importance of the agricultural industry to the future of Welsh in some areas, but this will not necessarily be true perhaps of every part of Wales. In the same way, the situation as regards housing, second homes, employment, the foundation of the economy, and education, and their relationship to the Welsh language, may differ between different parts of Wales.
The need to consider the effect of socio-economic and societal changes on the Welsh language has increased largely because of the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, and Covid-19. As a result, the Welsh Government wishes to act to secure linguistic sustainability in communities which are regarded traditionally as strongholds of the language.
The Welsh Government also wishes to connect public policy in the field of second homes and housing, for example in its policy ‘Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan’, with socio-economic and social considerations and objectives in these communities.
Terms of reference
As a consequence of the socio-economic and societal crisis which has developed in Welsh-speaking communities, the Welsh Government desires that the Commission focuses on stabilising and promoting the language in areas of linguistic sensitivity. This reflects the Government’s commitment in fields such as second homes, housing, and the economic base through the work of the Economy, Housing and Welsh Language Round Table as well as the Arfor 2 work programme.
The Commission may set some objectives of its own that in its view would be beneficial to the future of Welsh as a community language, but the Welsh Government is keen that the Commission discusses the following as part of its terms of reference:
- presenting an analysis of the results of the 2021 census once they have been published, as well as looking at other relevant sources, in order to investigate the current state of Welsh
- identifying areas of linguistic sensitivity where policy intervention may be required in order to support and strengthen the Welsh language as a community language
- identifying possible policy interventions to support and strengthen the Welsh language as a community language in particular in areas of linguistic sensitivity and to make policy recommendations about them
- Possible interventions will fall into two categories:
- direct interventions in terms of language policy
- interventions which respond to wider socio-economic, societal and educational contexts (or any other relevant matter) which effect the sustainability of Welsh as a community language
- The Commission will do this in two ways:
- it can offer advice in relation to public policy which is being developed. In the short term, the Welsh Government is keen to hear the views of the Commission in regards to the development of the Welsh Language Communities Housing Plan, and also in the context of the development of a white paper on the Welsh-language Education Bill to ensure that the educational planning system takes into consideration the wider language planning context. There may be other fields too where this would be beneficial; for example TAN 20.
- By making policy recommendations in relation to strengthening Welsh as a community language more generally, especially in areas of linguistic sensitivity. This should take the form of a report. The Welsh Government wishes to receive this report within two years of the date of the establishment of the Commission.
Cymraeg 2050 also acknowledges that Welsh is a national language for the whole of Wales. For this reason, following the submission of recommendations to the Government regarding the situation of Welsh as a community language in areas of linguistic sensitivity, we will commence a second phase to the Commission’s work. The second phase will focus on language use in other parts of Wales.