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Licensing Act 2003 - Bilingual application forms

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Sue Essex, Minister for Finance, Local Government and Public Services
I am responding to concerns raised by Members about the absence of bilingual licensing application forms under the Licensing Act 2003.  

The Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Government have stated their commitment to giving effect to the principle established in the Welsh Language Act that, in the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in Wales, the English and Welsh languages should be treated on an equal basis.

The licensing of alcohol and entertainment is not devolved to the National Assembly for Wales.  The issue of application forms is a matter for the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Assembly Ministers are concerned that individuals and organisations dealing with public sector bodies in Wales should have the same access to services through the medium of Welsh as they do in English.  I have written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to remind her of the UK Government’s commitment to the Welsh language and asking her to act quickly to ensure that Welsh speakers have access to Welsh language versions of the application forms. The Welsh Language Board has also advised DCMS officials on the implications of, and practical matters arising from, the requirements of the Welsh Language Act.

In responding to local needs, Conwy County Borough Council has translated the key forms into Welsh and is also translating the remaining forms.  With Conwy’s agreement, the Welsh Language Board is writing to all local authorities in Wales encouraging them to follow Conwy’s example and enclosing electronic copies of the forms.

The Welsh Assembly Government will be writing to all UK Government Departments to remind them of their obligation to comply with the Welsh Language Act in order to prevent a repeat of this situation in future.