Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Have they nothing better to do?

I probably shouldn’t ever be surprised at any aspect of Westminster’s government processes, but I’ll admit that the news this week that there is a potential problem with bilingual ballot papers for the police commissioner elections in two months’ time really did come as a surprise.

It’s not so much the fact that they’re late in the day thinking about it that comes as a surprise.  Much of what our own government in Cardiff does seems to treat the Welsh language as some sort of add-on extra; a simple translation job once all the real discussion has finished.  And if the Welsh Government can’t treat the Welsh language as an integral part of its activities, there is no reason to hope that the far-removed Westminster Government will ever be any better at it.
No, the part that surprised me was that it is necessary for the UK Parliament to pass an order ‘allowing’ the use of bilingual forms in Wales.  Given that bilingual forms for elections have been very much the norm in Wales for decades, and given the legislation which has been passed over the years in Westminster and Cardiff normalising the use of Welsh for official purposes, and giving the language, allegedly, equal status, why does a specific form for a specific election still need further legislation at all?
Has the Westminster Parliament really got nothing better to do than authorise what should be no more than a minor organisational detail, requiring nothing more than that relevant officials give to Welsh the equality of status which legislation claims it already has?  I find it utterly incredible that we need to seek the consent of a majority of the 650 MPs from across the UK (or however many of them bother to turn up for such a riveting agenda item) before a single form can be made available bilingually.

No comments: