Consultation Paper on Scottish Government Commitments to Gaelic and Scots and a Scottish Languages Bill
Foreword, Cabinet Secretary
The Scottish Government has made a number of strong and ambitious commitments to Gaelic and Scots and your views are invited and welcome on the commitments in this consultation exercise. The views we receive will assist in the decisions that are taken on these commitments.
It has been a number of years since legislation was passed in support of the Gaelic language and we have an opportunity to reflect on how the Gaelic language (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 have operated in practice. While steady progress has been made since this legislation was passed, we recognise that there is value in taking a fresh look at the measures that are in place. Up until now the Scots language has not benefitted from formal support through legislation and with growing support for the language I believe it time to consider what we can do in this regard.
Progress has been incremental and over recent decades there has been evidence of good progress. For example, there is now support for Gaelic found in community initiatives, in guidance and legislation, in national structures and in a wide range of projects. For the language to progress further we need to build on this diverse Gaelic infrastructure and support the community of speakers and learners wherever they are and whoever they may be.
The Scottish Government now has a Scots language policy. Further support for Scots is found in the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and in the valuable information obtained from the Scots question in the last census. Scots features prominently in education, publishing and the arts and a number of small bodies, with support from Government, are working closely to make further progress for Scots. This consultation exercise will help inform the next steps for Scots.
With the Scottish Government’s commitments and the work that will follow this consultation there is another opportunity to build on the good progress that has been made and to strengthen Gaelic and Scots in Scotland by increasing the numbers of people learning, speaking and using these languages in Scotland. To this end your contributions to this consultation exercise are welcome.
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP
The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
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