Calls for private companies to be held to higher Welsh language standards after HSBC row

There are calls for a law to be amended which would force private companies to abide by Welsh language regulations.

It comes after politicians in Wales urged HSBC to reverse its decision to end its Welsh-speaking telephone service.

Heini Gruffudd, the Chairman of Dyfodol I’r Iaith told CJS News he believes the Welsh Language Act should be altered so that private bodies are held to the same Welsh language standards as public bodies.

Currently, private companies can decide themselves what kind of Welsh language services such as signage and translation services they can offer.

Mr Gruffudd said: “There should be language standards for national private bodies, such as banks which operate on a national level in Wales.”

Heini noted that some companies such as Lidl provide equal Welsh and English signage in stores, with announcements being made in Welsh before English. However, he believes this is not the standard in the private sector.

Following a Senedd committee meeting at the Senedd with HSBC, a letter was sent to the bank by Plaid Cymru’s MS Delyth Jewell urging the bank to reconsider its decision.

The MS said the closure of the service shows “a level of contempt” for HSBC’s Welsh-speaking customers.

She also added that HSBC has an “inability to provide a functioning and coherent service that meets the needs of its Welsh-speaking customers”, citing the fact that 94 per cent of people who request Welsh language assistance, received a response in English.

A spokesperson for HSBC told the BBC : “If a customer does want to speak with a Welsh speaker, that still can be arranged.

“We will also continue to have Welsh-speaking colleagues in half our Welsh branches and will continue to respond to customer correspondence in Welsh.”

However, when investigated by CJS News, the names of the branches which provide Welsh-speaking services could not be found.