Call for expanded Welsh aid programme as final international strategy delayed until 2020

(Title Image: DEC Cymru)

Here’s a summary of some of this afternoon’s questions to the International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales).

U-turn on Welsh language sabbatical officer at Cardiff University criticised

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) raised the matter of establishing a society for Welsh language students at Cardiff University, with a dedicated elected sabbatical officer in line with Bangor, Aberystwyth & Swansea. This was due to be in place for spring 2020, but since then there’s been a u-turn, with Cardiff Student Union saying it would have to cut provision for other groups to set it up.

The Minister said that, ultimately, the union can make its own decisions, but this was a major disappointment:

“We know that there is a decline as people leave school and they don’t have an opportunity to use their Welsh language skills, and I think it’s very important that students have an opportunity to use the Welsh language in a social capacity, and this is exactly what this student (sic) provides. I was also aware that the board of trustees in the past had committed to appointing a full-time officer in Cardiff, and I am disappointed that they have stepped away from that.”
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan

In a second question on the denial of Welsh-speaking rights at an Ammanford factory, the Minister said she would have discussions with the Welsh Language Commissioner on informing businesses of their responsibilities – but there was no plan to bring forward and legislation relating to the private sector.

International strategy delayed; call for expanded Welsh aid programme

Shadow International Affairs Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West), asked about the international strategy and when the final version would be published.

The Minister confirmed that the final version won’t be published until the new year due to the election and the possible impact on the UK Foreign Office.

Darren Millar expressed his disappointment at the length of time it’s taken to get even the draft version done despite the Minister being in post for a year. Moving on, there was a recent event held at the Senedd by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). He listed the amount of money raised in Wales for various disasters – totalling around £5.2million.

“Minister, do you agree with me that it’s time we had a Wales for the world programme, where actually we can expand what we do, we can be more globally responsible, and we can amplify the Welsh presence in those developing nations and show some leadership, yes, on climate change, but also on alleviating poverty and responding to these sorts of situations that, very clearly, the people of Wales are passionate about?”
– Shadow International Affairs Minister, Darren Millar

The Minister acknowledged the generosity of the Welsh public but backed away from making any firm commitments. She was more concerned with making the small aid budget that is there work better, building on the strong bilateral ties Wales has withe Lesotho and Uganda.

Work stalls on “frustrating” post-Brexit trade talks

David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon) asked about work on a concordat between the Welsh and UK government on future trade deals. When he was told work has been halted due to the election, he noted his disappointment, believing it was essential the Welsh Government has its input during future trade negotiations as they’ll likely impact devolved areas.

The Minister was as frustrated as he was:

“We’ve been very clear with the UK Government that it’s imperative that we are a part of any trade negotiations. The Secretary of State has agreed to establish a joint ministerial forum on trade. The problem is that every time we get going here, there’s a shift and a change in terms of personnel. So, we develop these relationships with the relevant Minister, we get a long way down the line, then we’ve had a new Prime Minister and now we’ve got a general election, so we have to start all over again. It’s a really, really frustrating situation.”
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan

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