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  1. ITV Report

MPs allowed to speak Welsh in some Westminster debates

It's long been the rule at Westminster that MPs must speak in English Photo: PA

It's taken more than 50 years but lobbying by Welsh speaking MPs to be allowed occasionally to use the language at Westminster has finally borne fruit. The UK Government has decided to back the idea of it being spoken at all meetings of the Welsh Grand Committee.

The committee consists of all Welsh MPs and meets to debate subjects such as the impact on Wales of the Budget and the proposals in the Queen's Speech. In the 1990s it regularly met in Wales and MPs were allowed to use Welsh because they weren't at Westminster but that's only happened twice since devolution in 1999.

Welsh MPs play a vital role in making their constituents’ voices heard in the House of Commons. Across Whitehall, UK Government ministers are listening and responding – as we are today by promoting the Welsh language in Parliament and its contribution to the cultural diversity of the United Kingdom

– David Lidington MP, Leader of the House of Commons

Mr Lidington has promised to find time for MPs to debate and vote on the idea, which is expected to win cross-party support. Until now only brief quotations in a language other than English have been allowed at Westminster. Anything else has been ruled out of order, as the Labour MP for Merioneth, Thomas William Jones, discovered when he tried his luck in 1964.

Ar ran cenedl y Cymry a gaf fi ddiolch yn fawr i'r Prif Weinidog

– TW Jones MP

He was immediately pulled up by the Deputy Speaker, who demanded a translation. The MP said he'd thanked the Prime Minister "on behalf of the people of Wales" for establishing the Welsh Office. Today the current Secretary of State looked forward to debating and answering questions in Welsh.

I am delighted that MPs will be able to participate in the Welsh Grand Committee through the medium of Welsh for the first time in Westminster. It is vitally important that the people of Wales are able to hear debates in both languages. I hope that MPs who can speak Welsh will choose to use this service in order to help promote the Welsh language across Parliament.

– Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales

There'll be simultaneous translation into English of contributions made in Welsh. The House of Commons authorities say that the cost of interpreters and equipment will come out of existing budgets.