Welsh language failures wasting money that could be spent on NHS, BBC Newsnight guest says | UK | News

Author Julian Ruck claimed the calls for additional funding to aid Welsh speakers were being driven by a commissioner who has a “conflict of interest”.

Mr Ruck, a political commentator and columnist, said: “I have nothing against a Welsh speaker but the statistics cloud over whether someone can read or write the language.

“As far as I am concerned the expense to the taxpayer, that is the English taxpayer as well as the Welsh, far outweighs the number of people who can speak it.

“You are talking about £150million a year. Now if you say to someone who is dependant on the health service they have to wait because of XYZ, they are not going to be happy with that if they know this money is going to the Welsh language.

“Nobody has mentioned in the news reports about Mary Hughes the Welsh language commissioner being an ex–chairwoman of the Welsh language society. That is a conflict of interest and should not be allowed.”

Evan Davis presented BBC Newsnight facts about Welsh speakers and claimed that “in 1901 half the population of Wales could speak the language but now less than 700,000 and only around half of those are fluent in Welsh”.

He added that according to Census figures, all of those fluent in the language can also speak English.

Ruth Dawson, Wales Editor of The Conversation, said: “It is a huge part of Welsh culture and I do think the Government drive is fantastic for showing how important the language is to the people of Wales.”

Ms Dawson admitted she herself could not speak Welsh fluently and knew only a few of the basics despite going to a Welsh speaking school.

She continued: “In an ideal world people would pick up Welsh naturally but I do think people need help.

“The Government has encouraged people to speak the language and there needs to be a bigger push to make sure people are learning the language and using it every day.”

Mr Ruck was quick to jump in and point out that the editor was proof that the money was being wasted.

He added: “Hang on, there is the key, you go to a Welsh medium school and come out of it and you cannot speak Welsh. What is the point in all the money?

“It is nonsense because radio Cymru is down, S4C is down, the Census of 2011 is down. All of them are down. All this money that they are pumping into this language is not helping people speak Welsh. It is a fact.

“It is a nationalist argument and it turns international companies away. If you hand them a massive bill to turn everything into Welsh they…

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