A House of Lords Select Committee has heavily criticised the coalition government over a bill that will allow ministers to slash funding for Welsh language television by 25 per cent.
The report was published yesterday (4 November) by the Select Committee on the Constitution. The Committee suggested that the government has failed to make the case for its Public Bodies Bill, which would give ministers a vast set of powers over public bodies – such as changing their constitutional and funding arrangements.
Welsh television channel, Sianel Pedwar Cymru (Channel Four Wales, or S4C), is one of the bodies affected in the Bill.
Plaid Cymru, the Welsh independence party, allege that the the UK government is trying to undermine the 1990 and 1996 Broadcasting Acts which increases S4C’s annual funding in line with inflation.
“The Lords’ Constitution committee has already picked up on one of the major issues of the Bill,” said Plaid MP Hywel Williams, “Why should a UK government minister have the power to abolish, merge and otherwise interfere with public bodies without having a full discussion in Parliament?”
He pointed out that the Committee had questioned whether there are sufficient safeguards in place in this Bill and concluded that there are not.
Williams said that the Bill “could allow S4C to be merged with other broadcasters, have their management changed or even have the channel abolished – without any scrutiny and subject to whatever mood the minister is in”.
He insisted that, “The ConDems are using this Bill to undermine Welsh culture and S4C, and my colleagues in Plaid Cymru and I will do everything we can to make our voices heard on this”.
Plaid Cymru, whose name means “Party of Wales” in Welsh, is a socialist party working towards an independent Wales within the European Union.