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Fiddling with the jury system

A private members bill to enable English / Welsh bilingual juries is afoot. This does rather look like a solution looking for a problem, although perhaps the various Mr Bigs in Neath, Llanelli and the Rhondda like pulling long cons in Welsh.

What I find alarming is this section:


For the purposes of assessing the sufficiency of a person’s
understanding of Welsh, it shall be sufficient that the person has made
an assertion of his ability to speak Welsh in the annual return made to
the local authority of the place in which he resides.


(3)

It shall be a duty of electoral registration officers of local authorities in
Wales to send to such persons as the Lord Chancellor may by order
designate copies of the electoral register for their area indicating those
persons within the age limits of jury service able to speak Welsh, and
the register shall be sufficient evidence of a person’s ability to understand Welsh for the purposes of subsection (1).

A couple of points: Should information about language skills be demanded of the population? Once reaped, having it persumably in the public domain has uncomfortable implications. Perhaps I am way behind the curve and this information is already harvested, in which case Blamerbell or someone else au fait with all things Cambrian can set me right.

Sticking with Wales for the time being, I imagine jury service avoiding is just as popular as it is in London, so anyone flagging themselves as skilled in Cymric is asking for trouble. Moving beyond Offa's Dyke, you can be absolutely certain that there will be those hoping to pull similar stunts with Gaelic, and once that has been achieved, Urdu, Somali, Polish and for all I know the click language of the San bushmen.

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Blogger Newmania said... 10:27 am

Should information about language skills be demanded of the population? Once reaped, having it persumably in the public domain has uncomfortable implications

It does indeed and as usual someone is getting all energetic about solving a non problem while the real problem of Communities not speaking English is virtually ignored.


Interesting C I would love to know where you get some of your inf , several of your bits have appeared subsequently in the national press recently.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 10:37 am

There is an awful lot of news and so forth to be found armed with a few half way decent bookmarks....  



Anonymous verity said... 5:22 pm

I agree with Newmania. We should be addressing the ongoing problem of so many muslims who are unable to speak English at all, or with any degree of accuracy.

Part of this problem is easily addressed: muslim children are growing up in households where only one parent, the father, speaks any English. The mother, imported from some dump in Pakistan, never learns English, shops in her slum and only talks to neighbours in her slum in Urdu. Thus thousands of children are living in homes where no English is spoken. This is ridiculous.  



Blogger not_saussure said... 6:27 pm

I think information about what language(s) you speak has been part of the census in Wales for a very long time.

Certainly the 1901 census, in which I looked up one of my grandfathers, then a boy in Anglesey, it records that my great -grandparents (incomers from England), my grandfather and his brother and sister all spoke English but the housekeeper, cook and one of the two housemaids all spoke both English and Welsh (the other housemaid was, strangely, monolingual in English).

The census entry isn't accurate, since I know my grandfather spoke Welsh as well as English, but clearly this wasn't, at least at the time, the sort of thing a gentleman wanted to admit about his son.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 4:35 pm

NS - I regard the census with deep suspicion, but at least it is - apparently - only used as aggregated data, whereas an electoral roll entry acts an immediate personal identifier.  



Blogger Blamerbell said... 7:59 pm

"Perhaps I am way behind the curve and this information is already harvested, in which case Blamerbell or someone else au fait with all things Cambrian can set me right."

As you say, this information is available in aggregated form on the census but isn't currently recorded as a defining characteristic on the electoral role or elsewhere.

This story emerged in January as a 10 minute bill from a Plaid MP, as I recall.

"It does indeed and as usual someone is getting all energetic about solving a non problem while the real problem of Communities not speaking English is virtually ignored."

What a load of tosh!  



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