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Supermarkets could have to provide services in Welsh

AS PART of a Welsh Government pledge to increase Welsh language usage, private companies including supermarkets and banks could be made to provide services in Welsh, according to a report from the BBC.

The Welsh Government’s widely-publicised aim is to ensure that there will be one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Local Authorities already have to provide services in Welsh, and standards are being set for water, energy, bus and rail companies.

Campaigners have said Welsh language minister Alun Davies told them they should cover the whole private sector.

Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) has said Mr Davies told them of his support for widening such measures to other firms at a meeting in March.

In a letter to the minister the following day, the group said: “We are glad that you are privately and personally in favour of including the rest of the private sector in the measure.”

The Welsh Government is expected to publish its plans to reform Welsh language requirements before the assembly breaks for summer recess in late July.

Plaid Cymru, which is leading the debate on Wednesday, is urging ministers to plan for “substantial growth” in Welsh medium education and childcare, strengthen the role of the Welsh language commissioner, and to ensure economic planning takes the Welsh language into account.

Consultation in 2016 on the target of one million Welsh speakers suggested it would be based on the census returns where people in Wales are asked to identify whether they speak the language or not, although not how fluently or regularly.

The last census in 2011 showed the number of Welsh speakers in Wales fell from 582,000 in 2001 (20.8% of the population) to 562,000 (19%). In certain areas, the number of Welsh-speakers has halved over the past 30 years.

A century ago, almost a million people spoke the language.

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Jon Coles

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