Translation of a post by Vaughan Roderick
I don't know about your area, but here in Cardiff "D" plates on cars are almost as common as "L" plates. They've become so common that people hardly ever comment on them. It's odd to think just how long and bitter the battle over them was.
"D" plates were sold in garages and bookshops for years, but using them was technically illegal. From time to time some sixth former from Botwnnog or Ystalyfera would get arrested by an earnest young policeman for displaying a "D" plate, but the Welsh Office and Department of Transport turned a deaf ear to every plea to change the rules.
The excuses of the Welsh Office were pathetic. They're worth repeating to remind people just how short-sighted civil servants in Cathays Park used to be, and just how disparaging their attitude to Welsh was.
It wasn't possible for them to jump in with the first argument on the Welsh Office list of excuses - the cost - since it was, after all, the motorist who was paying for the plates.
That wasn't a problem for the Welsh Office department of excuses - by far the most efficient department in the Welsh Office. Number two on the list of excuses would do perfectly: "D" plates would, of course, be "unsafe". Were the language zealots willing to see children getting killed for the sake of Welsh?
When that argument failed to convince anyone, they used number three on the list - the border problem - the danger that someone might unwittingly break the law by driving across the border between Powys and Herefordshire.
The Welsh Office didn't just stick with the same old excuses. The intellectual prowess of the staff in the department of excuses was proverbial, and by "thinking outside the box" they produced some completely new and original excuses. It was suggested, for example, that the "L" on "L" plates wasn't a letter, but a non-language symbol ... only a fool would think that this symbol was the first letter of the word "Learner".
I think William Hague decided that enough was enough and, guess what, the A&E departments and police cells of Hereford didn't overflow because "D" plates had been legalized.
Which brings us back to the Newport chip shop. I had thought the Department of Excuses had long since closed, but it looks to have moved from Cathays Park to Gwydyr House. The Wales Office insist there isn't any argument against transferring the responsibility for making legislation about the language to Cardiff Bay. It's the "cost to business" that the Welsh Secretary is concerned about. I predict that questions about safety and cross-border problems will also raise their heads during the select committee's discussions. "The principle is fine, but ... "
The Assembly Government has opened up this argument by agreeing to set a threshold in the LCO on the size of the businesses that the Assembly can legislate for. By agreeing to one condition, MPs have been given an easy way to set other conditions. The Department of Excuses will be working overtime!
Both Rhodri and Ieuan insist that giving way on the affordable housing LCO did not set a precedent. Nonsense. A precedent has been set, and this precedent will enable the select committee to come back and bite their backsides over the language LCO.
Forget the idea that substantial chunks of power will be transferred through orders in council. The opinion in Westminster is that LCOs are Acts, and MPs will deal with them with the same detail as any other Acts. "Settle the constitutional question for a generation?" The Government of Wales Act is already falling to pieces.
Translation contributed to Welsh Noted by MH
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