In addition, an extended Welsh Language Unit will be established within Government, which will be able to work creatively with a large cross section of partners, to help ensure that the Welsh language continues to thrive.
The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, which is expected to be given Royal Approval on 9 February, will provide for the abolition of the Welsh Language Board and the transfer of its functions to the Welsh Language Commissioner or, in terms of functions to promote and facilitate the use of Welsh, to the Welsh Language Commissioner and / or the Welsh Ministers.
In accordance with the Welsh Language Measure, the Minister will also establish a Welsh Language Partnership Council to advise the Government on its language strategy.
The Minister said:
“I am very grateful to the Board for its innovative contribution over the years, and I look forward to seeing its work continue until the establishment of the Commissioner's office.
"Looking to the future, we must recognize that the constitutional landscape has been transformed since the Board was established in 1993. We now have a National Assembly, a far-reaching Welsh Language Measure, a new language strategy to be published shortly, following consultation - and we are delivering on our Welsh-medium Education Strategy. The Welsh Language Commissioner will be a key part of the new landscape, with responsibility for developing a new regulatory system to ensure the delivery of Welsh language services to the public.
"In dealing with these changes, and in considering the way forward, I have been guided by the need to establish clearly defined duties for the bodies which will be responsible for this vital work, whilst avoiding the possibility of conflict between the regulatory work to be pursued under the Measure - and the work of working in partnership with numerous organisations to develop a wide range of community-based activities. I also want to ensure, as far as possible, that the Commissioner, and the new Welsh Language Unit, will have the resources they need in order to deliver the important agenda set by Government.
"With these changes, the responsibility for language planning, and for promoting and facilitating the use of Welsh, will be in the hands of the Welsh Language Commissioner, the Welsh Assembly Government, in consultation with the Welsh Language Partnership Council and others, and numerous organizations, such as the Urdd and the mentrau iaith, which work tirelessly for the benefit of the language. The new Welsh Language Measure will also enable the Welsh Language Commissioner to impose a duty on local authorities to promote the use of Welsh.”
The role of the Welsh Language Commissioner will be to:
- Focus on the new regulatory system, including developing and setting standards, developing codes of practice and establishing a new enforcement regime, whilst continuing to operate the Welsh language scheme system in the meantime;
- monitor the performance of bodies in accordance with the duties imposed on them;
- deal with complaints from members of the public about failure to comply with standards;
- advise and promote good practice among private and third sector organisations that fall outside the scope of statutory duties under the Welsh Language Measure;
- provide research and a statistical basis to support the Commissioner’s 5-year reports on the position of the Welsh language and conduct inquiries into any matter of interest to the language;
- advise the Welsh Assembly Government and others on language policy and related issues through the development and analysis of research and data;
- provide independent scrutiny of Welsh Assembly Government policies and respond to consultation documents;
- develop the infrastructure to help others with their delivery of Welsh language services (e.g. in relation to terminology and translation; and to
- deal with applications in relation to alleged interference with the freedom of individuals to use Welsh with one another.
The role of the extended Welsh Language Unit will be to:
- Mmanage the Welsh language grants programme (including grants for the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol and the mentrau iaith);
- manage projects, including those outlined in the draft language strategy (e.g. the Twf project);
- provide the secretariat for the Welsh Language Partnership Council, which will have a key role in providing advice on our language strategy - and its action plan;
- represent the Welsh Assembly Government on international networks and the British-Irish Council;
- administer the process of preparing subordinate legislation which may include legislation for language standards recommended by the Commissioner, in accordance with the Welsh Language Measure; and to
- remain responsible for the work of the current Unit, including providing advice to Government Ministers and leading the work of developing the Assembly Government's ability to work through the medium of Welsh.
The responsibilities of the Board with regard to overseeing the planning of Welsh-medium education by local authorities - and funding the athrawon bro service and Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin - will transfer to the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills.