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Extend language legislation urges Plaid Cymru
Legislation obliging organisations to deal with their customers in Welsh should be extended to mobile phone companies and websites, it was claimed today. Last week Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Minister Alun Pugh announced the 1983 Welsh Language Act would be extended to cover water companies - the first time the act had been applied to the private sector
Jacques-Yves Le Touze pour Tomos Livingstone le 21/01/04 23:33

Legislation obliging organisations to deal with their customers in Welsh should be extended to mobile phone companies and websites, it was claimed today.

Last week Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Minister Alun Pugh announced the 1983 Welsh Language Act would be extended to cover water companies - the first time the act had been applied to the private sector.

The minister said he wanted to extend the Act as far as possible, but rejected calls for a new law, which would have to be passed in Westminster.

During a meeting of the Assembly's Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee today, Plaid Cymru's Owen John Thomas called for the act to be expanded further.

Mr Thomas said: "I'm concerned that the new technology being used in banking, for example, means a lot more people are using the web to deal with their money.

"What I would like you to do, in consultation with the Language Board, is to put pressure on the banks to consider making the service on the website bilingual.

"And in the same way, contact companies like Vodafone, which play an important role in young people's lives in particular, to provide a service in Welsh.

"You can get it in Spanish, German and a lot of quite small languages."

Mr Pugh said: "I certainly want everyone to understand last week's legislation isn't a one-off.

"I believe companies that offer public utilities, companies that are effectively private monopolies, should deal with people in Wales in the language of their choice.

"I'm very keen indeed to ensure existing legislation is used to its maximum extent. Owen John raises a legitimate point.

"We will have something interesting to say about IT projects later this year."

Mr Pugh said he would look into a point raised by Denise Idris-Jones (Labour, Conwy) that BT were charging for a service in Welsh which was free in English.

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