Welsh Newspapers

Search 15 million Welsh newspaper articles

Hide Articles List

18 articles on this Page







LEGAL JOBBERY AND THE WELSH LANGUAGE IMPORTANT LETTERS FROM PUBLIC MEN, We have much pleasure in publishing the follow- ing expressions of opinion from Welsh M.P.'s and other prominent public men who are connected with the administration of law :— LORD SALISBURY. 22nd October, 1891. SIR,—I am directed by Lord Salisbury to acknow- ledge the receipt of your letter of the 19011 instant and of the copy of the South Wales Star which you have been so kind as to send him, in which yon advocate the appointment of persons having a knowledge of Welsh to legal and other public offices in the Welsh-speaking portions of Wales.—I am, sir, yours obediently, SCHOMBEKG K. MCDOXXJVLL. W. Llewellyn Williams, Esq. Editor South Wales Star. THE RIGHT HON. J. CHAMBERLAIX" M.P. Highbury, Moor Green, Birmingham, 24th October, 1891. Sir..—I am directed by Mr. Chamberlain to acknow- ledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd inst., and in reply to say that he is not sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances to which you call his attention to interfere. The question is one for discussion in the Principality, and if a grievance can be shown to exist he has no doubt that the Welsh members will be able to secure favourable attention to it from the Govern- ment.—I am. sir, yours obediently. JOHN WILSON. W. Llewellyn Williams, Esq. THE RIGHT HON. GEO. OSBORNE MORGAN. M.P. DEAR SIR,—In reply to your letter, I have no hesi- tation in saying that I regard the Anient of a County Court judge or a stipendiary ir- .trate, igno- rant of Welsh, ,,0 one of the ,Vels1. districts of the Principality as most reprehensible and improper, and I trust the matter will at once be brought before Parliament when it meets. I may men- tion that in the year 187211 called the attention of the House of Commons to this questionj and on that occasion the House passed unanimously a vote dis- approving of such appointments where competent persons acquainted with the Welsh language could be found to fill the poets in question.—Believe me, yours truly, G. OSBORKE MORGAN.. Brymbo Hfil, Wrexham, Oct. 23rd, 1891. SIR E. J. REED,. MP. Folkestone, October 26. DEAR Un. LLEWELLYN WILLIAMS,—The ques- tion you put to me is this How far do you consider a knowledge of the Welsh language essential as a quali- ficat'on for legal and other publicimprovements in the Welsh-speaking parts of Wales?" I have no hesita- tion in saying in reply that I consider a close and inti- mate acquaintance with the Welsh language is so essential to the administration of justice Í1} the Welsh- speaking paruS of Wales that I seriously doubt if justice can without it be fairly and LIlly dealt out to the-people by judges and others concerned in the ad- ministration and execution of the law and of public affairs. In Holyhead Island, for example, where I recently spent ten days, the native inhabitants always speak Welsh among themselves, and all sorts of mis- takes and misunderstandings arise when the English language alone is relied upon. For a judge who can- not understand Welsh to try these people-and the same thing holds true in hundreds of other parts of Wales—is to my mind a mockery of justice. I go further, and I say that there are many parts of Wales, mostly in the interior, where the Welsh language pre- vails, but wheie English is also understood by a "air proportion of the people, and I consider that even there justice wouid be best a 'ministered by conducting cases mainly in Welsh, with English interpretation certainly in all such cases the judges should h. with the Welsh tongue. 1 have never had a doubt about this matter, winch I have had the singular and great advantage of d-s- cussing on many occasions with the man who probably knows most about it—I mean His Honour Ju. ge Gwilym Williams, who has often illustrated to me the practical evils that ensue from a want of the Welsh language in such districts of Wales. I believe I have never lost an opportunity in the House of Commons of supporting the claim in ques- tion, and I am shocked to find tnat men men unquali- fied by a knowledge of Welsh are still appointed to judicial and other public posts in. Wales.—Yours obediently, E. J. Rj £ ED MABON, M.E. SIR,—Like yourself I hold a very strong, opinion with regard to the legal jobbery in the recent appoint- ment of a county-court judge to Mid-Wales. It is high time that the natural right to be judged by men who can understand and sympathise with them— men of their own tongue and nationality—should be extended to the Welsh people. Why siiouM-we be made to appear to be "aliens" in our own country? And it is a matter of great regret that in so recent an appointment these essential qualifications were so rudely set aside and ignored.—I am,.dear sir, yours truly, MAJJON. MR. ALFRED THOMAB, M.P. DEAR MR. WILLTAMS,—You have done- well in directing public attention in your admirable paper to the recent appointment 10 the County-court judgeship of Mid-Wa'es. The gentleman, who received the appointment may have many qualifications, but as he does not possess that indispensable retirement—a knowledge of the Welsh language—the transaction has been ptopeily characterised by you as 31. piece of "legal joboery." There was mutual nude-standing that no peison should be appointed to a judgeship or other responsible legal position in. Wales who did not possess a knowledge of the language, and g,tbe lecent appointment is in direct violation .of that under stand- standing it will be resented jby every patriotic- We1 mm. The Welsh language is the language of the people, and this last attempt to trample on our nationality and ignore our nai u-a1 civic rights win arouse a spirit of patriotism throughout the Principality that will make even the present Government regret their ill- advised preference, and def. ;r any future Government from i epeaiin;; such a fh, a )t blunder. I have made pro v'i jiou in the National Institutions Bill for patting a stop to this continued d>s. egard of our nationa1 rights; and should that EP1 become law I believe it will secure a satisfactory emanci- pation from a system of legal appointments that insults our na" om) spirit and, in the vesalt, gives ever-recur/ing occasion for those blunders in our criminal courts, and even in our civil courts, where poor people are concerned, which are a standing dis- giace to the present si a^e of legal administration in Wales.—I am, dear Mr. Williams, yours sincerely, ALFRED THOMAS. Bronwydd, October 28, 1891. MR. J. LLOYD MORGAN, M.P. •Reform Club, Pall Mall, S.W., October 26, j.89 ■. DEAR MR. WILLIAMS,—I would have replied to your letter before, but I have been away attending quarter sessions and have been rather busy. I have always said that, in my opinion, County-court judges in \Vales ought to possess a knowledge of the Welsh language. It is most important, as so many of the suitors a-e unrepresented 0Y solicitors and unable to speak English, in which cases the hardship appears most clearly. A judge with a knowledge of tne lan- guage is far better able to administer justice. I have particularly noticed in attending the County-courts be- fore Judge Gwilym Williams, how his knowledge of Welsh assists him in doing justice to suitors. Unfor- tunately the motion passed in the House of Commons on the subject has been ignored, and we can do nothing now but protest against it.—With very kind regards, yours ever truly, J. LLOYD MORGAN. W. Llewellyn Williams, Esq. MR. D. LLOYD GEORGE, M.P. SIR,—I cordially approve of the sentiments ex- pressed in your trenchant artiele on the above topic. Perhaps T could hardly go with you to the extent of placing knowledge of the Welsh language as the fore- most qualification for the holding of legd appoint- ments '11 Wales. For my part I woukl subordinate every linguistic accomplishment and mere teclmical acquaintance with the law to the one supreme con- sideration o" securing a. judge gifted with a judicial mind. I have known Welshmen promoted to magisterial positions, tolerably conversant with their mother tongoe^bot who were absolutely devoid of any capacity for the ar1jllsL;ng and balancing of the weight of eonflic,ing circumstances. I would rather be tried by Tin-Irish mufti than by Welshmen of that order. But are there no capable Welsh banisters available ? The elevation of English-speaking lawyers to the bench in Wales would imply otherwise. This imlendo con- tained in recent appointments is, I need hardly point out, a gratuitous and utterly unjustifiable libel urlon ouv national ba.\ Given such men as we can boast of. a knowledge of Welsh ought to be legarded as i ldis- pensable. No man with the slightest experience of proceedings in counts of justice can doubt the im- portance of the judge's 11nder¡;,ta.ncling tl1c bnguage jn which the evidence is given. Dismissing for the moment all reference to national sentiment (which the Philistine now sitting on the Woolsack invariably treats with such contempt) there exist strong practical reasons for preferring Welsh-speak:ng applicants. I have known cases decided by the interpretation of evidence. Justice often depends upon the construction of phrases of double or doubtful meaning, and where the judge happens to be an alien the interpreter in those cases becomes the sole arbiter of the destinies of the action.- Yours, &c.\ D. LLOYD-GEORGE. Brynawel, Criccieth. MR. LEWIS MORRIS, J.P. Penbryu, Carmarthen, Oct. 21st, 1891. Siu,—More years ago than I like to rec&ll, while Wales was still dormant, I wrote to the Timvs a letter, which appeared with editorial comments, Oil the absurdity of legal arrangements in Wales, and'the folly, and in criminal cases downright wickedness, of a trial in which the jury knew hardly a. word of the language of the judge or the counsel. I pointed out, moreover, the fact, that while the evidence of Welsh witnesses was always translated into English, that of English witnesses was never translated into the language of the Welsh-speaking peasants whose verdict was to decide the case. Nothing mc-ch Icame of it; we were 1111t awake as we are now, but the sentiments I then entertained I entertain still. Beyond the translation 0 H the English e vidence^ [ really do not know what can be I done short of reviving! the old Welsh Judicature, whicn was probably abolished with advantage. Eng- lish Judges-will never learn Welsh, whatever the Bar may do. Perhaps the Welsh Institutions Bill, of which 1 see it is the fashion to speak with some con- tempt—a contempt which I by noimeans share—might help us in this important matter. But as to County Courts, which are essentially the Courts of the Welsh people, denying with intimate matters of everyday con- cern, I can have no doubt whateverobat in most parts of Wales a knowledge of Welsh by the Registrar and the In,1ge would be most desirable, and in some cases absolutely essential. There is no lack of abls Welsh- speaking barristers at thi.s moment, and if Welsh were made a tu'>e q'(rl noh for such appointments, there wou'd soon IY.) a supemb..m(la,l1ce 0;' qualified persons. The case of stipendiary magistrates is even stronger, as they have to deal, not with the pecuniary, bit the civil or personal rights of the individual. But inasmuch as at present—excent, perhaps, in districts like the lthondda —these excellent functionaries administer justice chiefly in our large towns, where Welsh is, at any rate, not the exclusive language of the people, the .difficulty is less felt in these cases. But think for a moment what a farce- and denial of ijcstice it is that a man should be tired for his liberty or life; n a language which he does no. understand. Think of the horror of being tried by a Spanish or a German tribunal if all the poims of the law amI the critical ^portion of the evi- dence to be met were as meie jargon to the accused. conveying no singleime'pg'hie idea. Yet thk is what goes oil year by year throughout Wales, so that a murderer,, after sentence, has had to be brought back to court, inasmuch a.s.lle did no", or alleged he did not. understand a single word of the judge's sentenr-e of death. Why 'are Welshmen of less account than Hindoos ? In petty sessions, I fear much trouble and injustice mast i_'om:1. similar cause. In those at which I sit and of wirch I have recently acted as chairman, no difficulty prises, because tlw-e 's always one magistrate who speaks it fluently, while J myself understand it well enough and in every case where toe wit!1es8 desi *es to 3peak bis own lan- guage, tne Bench always allows him to do so, and have a competent interpreter ready at hand. But I am afraid this is not so everywhere, and where it is not. it is inevitable that there should frequently be serious miscarriages, of just'ee. AU I would suggest is moderation in this matter, and, beyond all, practica1 suggestions. rphere ra no wish, I am sure, to deny us our rights, and it is-in great part our own fault that we have not got them. The-.hateful old practice of send- ing to Parliament the most incompetent and useless candidate available^has, happily, become obsolete. The Welsh members have only to speak out to secure what is wanted. If for any cause they,will not, they, should should give place to those who will.—Yours truly, LEWIS MORRIS. PROFESSOR RHYS, M.A. OTFORD. B'Cbll. JesuT Oxon, 2"thOct.. 1891. DEAR WILLIAMS,—I a^.ee with you in t.iink'ng it highly unfair and inexpedient that a judge who knows no Welsh should be appointed to a Welsh cir- cuit. Of course 1. am speak'nj in. utter ignorance of the qualifications of Mr. Beresford in f ther respects.— Believe me, yours-truly, J. RHYS. PRINCIPAL T..C. EDWARDS, D.D.. B^LA COLLEGE. The Theological College, Bala, North Wales, October 23, 1891. DEAR SIR,—I agree with you that kno-wledge of Welsh is an essential qualification in any person, how- ever eminent-he may be, for legal and other public, a1 pointments hVle Welsh-speaking parts of Wales. It is now practically acknowledged in ecclesiastical ap- pointments. It is notorious that injustice is often unwittingly done in a court of lawr because the jury understand neither couruel nor judge. Thi& accounts, in a measure, for th-j tendency of a Welsh jury to acqaL i^he prisoner a^.inst the evidence of the judge's ■ mming ;r.. I take exception only to the implied inference that every appointment J.- a judge who does not how Weish is a job." It may be or it may not be. My belief is that those who make such appointments do not know the liar Iship they infist upon the Welsh people generaily. Fo" tnis reason I thank you ^'or raising the question and eliciting opinions upon it.— Yours laithfully, T- C. EDWARDS. To the Editor of the South Wales Star. sm: .T.. T: MjEWELYN, BART, Pen-lerga.re. Swansea, Oct. 23th, 1391. DEARf SHI,—In consequence of my absence from home I have not received the copy of the South Wales Star which yon tell me you have sent me. I have, however; received your letter of the 23rd this morning, and in ans wer to your question I beg to sav I have always considered a knowledge of the Welsh language desirable as a qualification for legal and some other public apptintments in the Welsh- speakipg parts of Wales. I am not prepared to go the length of saj ir.g it is essential, especially for all public appointmonts.butc''irr/spfl ribi'.o, aW" elsh-speak'nglofficial in the Welsh-speaking p.nvs of Wales is pieferable to an Englishman.:—I am, yours very truly, JOHN- T. D. LLEWELYX. MR. FR ANK EDWARDS, LIB»Etttu CASDiDA"'E FOR RAONOR3I1IRE. Knighton, Radnorshire, 26th October, 1831. PEA1! 3TH,:—In reply to. your letter, I qivte agree wir.h \w remark? on Legal Jobbery and the_ We'sh Language- In my opinion a knowledge of Welsh is an essentia) ruaUfication for the posits l oc a Coumy- court jadge in Wa'es. I„ is dep'orable that jadges should be appointed who do not understand the lan- gu.ag€;of many of those to whom they hpve to administer justice. I hope that tlrs subiect will be dealt with in such a manner that it will be impossible in fuLure for the opinions of Welshmen to be ignored or flouted on so- import-ant a point.—Yours faithfully, FR4.NK EDWARDS. The Editor South Wales Siar. MR. HERBERT THOMAS, J.P., BRISTOL. SIR,—I see that under the heading "Legal Jobbery and the Welsh," you open the columns of your ably conducted paper to an expression of opinion on a very interesting and important subject—that of, whether, for the administration u. jastice in Wales the appoint- ment of all public o'K ~ers should not be confincd to qualified persons farr'li? • with the Welsh language. This subject ;5 one which should be considered free from sentiment, Welsh no<»nal pride or esteem. H.ppily in our country all persons who are arraigned for offences in our cou. u" are presumed to be inuoce it until they aie proved tD be guilt". Tlrs being so, then for their defence it is not only desirable but it is also a moral obligation that in the case of an inhabi- tant of those portions of the kingdom where English is not the spoken language, th;,t the judge before whom such persons ma.y be prosecuted may under- stand the language, which in most cases '8 the only one in which the witnesses of the prosecuted can well expiess their knowledge of facts. In the civil couit defendants also can but des': that their respective witnesses shouhl be permitted to give the fullest and exaot expressions of the facts to which they testify. Interprete 's often ca- ider the evidence given in words which carry their foil force. In my experience of ma.ny years on the bench as magistrate in a large city, fteqaentad by sailorj and others, I have fre- quently observed the disadvantage in which the accused and his foreign witnesses are placed, notwith- standing all effort to provide the best interpreter assistance. The majority of Welsh witnesses are not sufficiently fanvtiar with English to express their knowledge of facts clcar'v in Ü there is for this reason an undoubted right that Welshmen should be allowed to t,ive their cvidence in their own tongne in the courts of their own country, and that those who act there as judges should b? so well acquainted with their language as not to require an imerpeter. Welsh members of Parliament should combine to demand this. You do good service to the Principality by promoting this object.—Yours faithfully, October 27oh. 1391. HERBERT THOMAS. MR. T. MARCHAXT WILLIAMS, M.P. Rhydfelin, Buiith. October 26.1G91. DEAR SIR,—I know of no County-court circuit in Wales in which the Welsh language is not largely spoken, and I have no hesitation, there Core, in saying that one of the essential qualifications in a County- comt ju'lge appointed to a Welsh circuit should be a knowledge of the We'.>n language. I am saon-jly of opincon, too, that a knowledge of the Welsh language is an indispensable qualification for all public appointments in the Welsh-speaking districts of the Principality.—Believe n1.q, yours fa.ith- fu'ly, T. M A tic it ANT WILLIAMS. W. Llewellyn Williams. Esq. MR. W. RE CS DAViES, THE LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR rGMBROKESIIIRE. i Mack worth Arms Hotel, Swansea, 21st Oct., 133L DEAR SIR,—As a member of the Bar I feel some delicacy in criticising the appointment of any County Court judge, and l ro'iain from,expressing an opinion as to any hjdividoal appointment, but speaking generally, I cordially endorse, the opinion recently ex- piessed by Jiirdge Gwilym Williams that some know- ledge of the Welsh langvo^je should be a necessary element to he consideied iuthe appointment of County Court judges io puie'y Wolsh distiicts.—Yours faith- fuHly, W. REES DAVIES. W. Llewellyn Wil'ii^jiis, Esq., Editor South Star.

[No title]










[No title]