Minister expresses support for future trade agreements referencing human rights

(Title Image: Study in Wales via Twitter)

Now, a round-up of questions to International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales).

No legal safeguards for Welsh-speaking dementia patients

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) raised a case of a Welsh-speaking dementia patient, who Betsi Cadwaladr health board are considering commissioning care for in England where there would be no Welsh language provision. As things stand this would be completely legal.

“Surely, it should be an expectation on a health board to provide a service for vulnerable patients, such as dementia patients, in their first language, and that it shouldn’t fall to families, politicians and pressure groups to safeguard the human right of Welsh speakers to a service through the medium of their language. Do you agree with the suggestion of the First Minister yesterday that there are fundamental deficiencies in the health standards and that they must be revisited as a matter of urgency?”
– Sian Gwenllian AM

The Minister said there are sometimes clinical issues which mean patients have to leave the country, though she recognised that Welsh-medium care is something that should be offered in Wales. There had to be an attitude change by health boards and they need to be made more aware of their obligations – but she offered no commitments or guarantees beyond that.

Doing well on-screen, not doing so well off-screen

Shadow Culture Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central), congratulated Taron Egerton on his recent Golden Globes success, suggesting it was an example of what Wales and Welsh talent can achieve. However, the Welsh film and TV industry were still lagging behind peers like New Zealand. What work was the Welsh Government doing to promote Wales as a film location?

The Minister aims to take the Welsh film and TV industry global:

“….in terms of the international strategy, which we’ll launch next week, one of the three sectors that we’re hoping to promote Wales in terms of how we want to be perceived internationally is TV and film. And if you look at the developments over the past 10 years, we now have about 50,000 people working in this industry, and that I think is a growth of about 50% in the past 10 years. So I think we’re heading in the right direction, but we need to shout about it internationally, and that’s certainly something I hope to be doing.”
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan

Worries over watered-down commitments to human rights in post-Brexit scramble

Shadow International Affairs Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West), praised the Welsh and UK Government’s focus on championing human rights, but there were examples of contradictions.

“I am a little concerned that the Welsh Government has been cosying up to the Vietnamese Government in recent years, particularly through the Wales-Vietnam education link. Now, indeed, the Welsh Government rolled out the red carpet for a visit by the Vietnamese Education Minister last year, less than 12 months ago. As you will be aware, Minister, the Vietnamese regime is a police state, which is regularly accused of human rights violations, not least in relation to the minority Christian community there.”
– Shadow International Affairs Minister, Darren Millar AM

Whilst believing developing links with other nations is appropriate, Huw Irranca-Davies AM (Lab, Ogmore) raised his own concerns that in the post-Brexit scramble for trade deals, UK human rights commitments would be “watered-down” as EU obligations become void.

The Minister was disappointed Darren Millar attacked a “very strong education relationship” with Vietnam, which she described as an “up and coming country”. Human rights prompt difficult decisions sometimes and the Welsh Government assessed the partnership as being constructive and mutually beneficial.

“I think first of all it’s worth saying that human rights are commonly not something that is substantively provided for within trade agreements. What happens is they are referred to, they are referenced on to broader framework agreements, and what we in the Welsh Government would want to see is a reference to those broader framework agreements that would cover human rights to make sure that there is a link between the trade policies and those broader human rights situations.”
– International Affairs & Welsh Language Minister, Eluned Morgan

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