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Melding: Holding the Labour-Plaid coalition to account

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"It has to be said, Presiding Officer, that, from the start, the Welsh Assembly Government has been sloppy with our new powers. We have just had an instance of that, which was unexpected as far as I was concerned, but not untypical, regarding the budget.

Members will recall that in June, instead of a set-piece debate on the Government's legislative programme, we had a statement from the First Minister, and I think that Ieuan Wyn Jones, before he was translated to his present dignity, got it absolutely right when he said in response:

'We feel a statement is not the way to present your programme for the coming year. I feel strongly that this is one of the most important set pieces of any assembly, and that we should have an intensive opportunity to consider it in a debate that should take at least two days'.

I hope that the Plaid Cymru group have not repented of this constitutional rigour. I think that the leader of Plaid Cymru and the present Deputy First Minister got it absolutely right. This must be one of the few assemblies in the world where there is not a comprehensive debate on the Government's legislative programme—but then again, they do not all have Rhodri Morgan as First Minister.

I must say that, last week, we had a further decline in constitutional propriety, when Carwyn Jones dropped the oral statement that he was about to make on the progress of the legislative programme, and issued a written statement instead. However, he was questioned—through your latitude, Presiding Officer, for which we were grateful—and he said:

'there is no row, split, problem or dispute of any kind between the Government here and the Government in Westminster'.

I must say that we did not realise that things were that bad. However, it is clear that the situation is somewhat out of control.

It is fair to say that we can all agree that the Assembly's new powers are important. As the First Minister said in June, and I agree with this:

'It is in legislation…that one of the major distinguishing features of this third Assembly will be found.'

He was quite correct, and went on, in almost Jeffersonian poetic terms to say:

'Our object must surely be not to create more laws, but better laws for Wales, and to focus our efforts on bringing about improvement in those aspects of daily life that impact most directly on our fellow citizens'.

Again, I have no quarrel whatsoever with that statement. It must be said that the Measures and LCOs that have been brought forward deal with some fundamental matters, relating directly to the lives of our fellow citizens, and it is the ambition of this Government to be citizen focused. We think that it will probably fail in that, in driving up standards, but it is a coherent statement and a worthy objective.

Where, then, do we have a problem? Simply stated, it seems that the Welsh Assembly Government is in difficulty for drafting its current LCOs in an expansive way, and we have a particular row with the second LCO, on environmental protection and waste management.

Certainly, in June, when the First Minister referred to the intention to bring forward legislation in that field, he said that it would be 'wide-ranging', and able to 'bring about a green switch in Wales'. That is expansive rhetoric, and it certainly had a comprehensive degree of cross-party support in this Chamber. The then-Minister for Sustainability and Rural Development, when the LCO was published a little later, said that it would:

'enable the Assembly to pass Measures that could have a direct and positive impact on our ability to combat the threat of climate change'.

That is high ambition; it takes this particular issue seriously. We are seeing the Assembly increase, as it were, in magnitude, and I am sure that the people of Wales expect us to take this issue of the environment as seriously as we are. There is a sense of unity in this Assembly on that point, and opinion is behind the Government in wanting an ambitious LCO.

However, we now see that Whitehall is much less sure about this procedure and this development. There is a lot of pressure on the Welsh Assembly Government, and it seems to us—though we are obviously not party to these private conversations, but it is our job to scrutinise what is going on—that there is a great deal of pressure to limit the LCOs and to indicate their specific policy objectives, whereas, of course, they are intended, in this new constitution, to bring new areas into our legislative competence, areas in which we then pass Measures which we could repeal at some point in the future. That is clearly the intention of the LCO procedure.

There is a danger that if this second LCO is knobbled, it will become a test case and will set a precedent for a much narrower vision of what we should be doing as a legislature. Whether you agree that we should have fuller proper powers as a legislature or not, this is an important matter of public concern. What is going to happen? It is not so much the intention here, but it is what, in practice, is now starting to emerge in Whitehall.

Some eminent people are concerned about the current situation. I want to quote someone, but I do not believe that it is fair to identify him, but I will give you a clue—he is a peer of the realm and is present in the Chamber. It does not matter who tries to intervene, I will not give way.

I shall proceed to the quote, which was sage, almost Burkeian advice:

'My advice would be that it is important from the beginning to recognise the legitimacy of the new constitutional arrangements, and therefore especially in this policy area of all policy areas, that maximum devolution…should be conceded'.

That goes to the heart of the matter: there is a fundamental constitutional point here. Far from reassuring us, or even recognising that there may be a case to answer—even if you think that the case can be answered successfully—the First Minister's response was that he thought that this state of affairs was normal and what we must expect in future. A high level of tension between Cardiff and Westminster may now become a matter of course."

"Rhaid dweud, Lywydd, fod Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru wedi bod yn flêr gyda'n pwerau newydd o'r cychwyn cyntaf. Yr ydym newydd gael enghraifft o hynny, a oedd yn annisgwyl o'm safbwynt i, ond nid yn annodweddiadol, ynglyn â'r gyllideb.

Bydd Aelodau'n cofio y cawsom ym Mehefin, yn lle dadl osod ar raglen ddeddfu'r Llywodraeth, ddatganiad gan y Prif Weinidog, ac yr wyf yn credu i Ieuan Wyn Jones, cyn iddo gael ei drosi i'w urddas presennol, daro'r hoelen ar ei phen pan ddywedodd mewn ymateb:

'Teimlwn nad datganiad yw'r ffordd i gyflwyno'ch rhaglen ar gyfer y flwyddyn i ddod. Teimlaf yn gryf mai dyma un o 'set pieces' pwysicaf unrhyw gynulliad, a dylem gael cyfle dwys i'w ystyried mewn dadl, a hynny dros o leiaf ddeuddydd'.

Gobeithio nad yw grwp Plaid Cymru wedi rhoi heibio'r llymder cyfansoddiadol hwn. Yr oedd arweinydd Plaid Cymru a'r Dirprwy Brif Weinidog presennol yn llygad ei le yn fy marn i. Mae'n rhaid mai dyma un o'r ychydig gynulliadau yn y byd lle na cheir dadl gynhwysfawr ar raglen ddeddfu'r Llywodraeth—ond wedyn, nid oes gan bob un ohonynt Rodri Morgan yn Brif Weinidog.

Rhaid imi ddweud inni gael dirywiad pellach mewn priodoldeb cyfansoddiadol yr wythnos diwethaf, pan ollyngodd Carwyn Jones y datganiad llafar yr oedd ar fin ei wneud am hynt y rhaglen ddeddfu, a chyhoeddi datganiad ysgrifenedig yn ei le. Fodd bynnag, fe'i holwyd—drwy'r penrhyddid a ganiatawyd gennych chi, Lywydd, yr ydym yn ddiolchgar amdano—a dywedodd:

'nid oes na ffrae, na rhwyg, na phroblem nac anghydfod o unrhyw fath rhwng y Llywodraeth yma a'r Llywodraeth yn San Steffan'.

Rhaid imi ddweud nad oeddem yn sylweddoli bod pethau cynddrwg â hynny. Fodd bynnag, mae'n amlwg fod y sefyllfa allan o reolaeth braidd.

Mae'n deg dweud y gallwn i gyd gytuno bod pwerau newydd y Cynulliad yn bwysig. Fel y dywedodd y Prif Weinidog ym Mehefin, a chytunaf â hyn:

'Mewn deddfwriaeth...y bydd un o brif nodweddion gwahaniaethol y trydydd Cynulliad i'w weld'.

Yr oedd yn gwbl gywir, ac aeth ymlaen, mewn termau barddonol Jeffersonaidd bron, i ddweud:

'Mae'n sicr mai creu gwell cyfreithiau yw ein hamcan yn hytrach na chreu mwy o gyfreithiau, a chanolbwyntio ein hymdrechion ar wella'r agweddau hynny ar fywyd beunyddiol sy'n effeithio'n fwyaf uniongyrchol ar ein cyd-ddinasyddion'.

Eto, nid wyf fi'n anghytuno o gwbl â'r datganiad hwnnw. Rhaid dweud bod y Mesurau a'r gorchmynion cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol a gyflwynwyd yn delio â materion sylfaenol, sy'n uniongyrchol berthnasol i fywydau ein cyd-ddinasyddion, ac uchelgais y Llywodraeth hon yw canolbwyntio ar y dinesydd. Yn ein barn ni, mae'n debyg mai methu a wnaiff yn hynny o beth, o ran gwthio safonau i fyny, ond mae'n ddatganiad rhesymegol ac yn nod teilwng.

Ble, felly, y mae gennym broblem? O'i roi yn syml, mae'n ymddangos fod Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru mewn anhawster am iddi ddrafftio'i gorchmynion cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol cyfredol mewn ffordd eang, ac mae gennym ffrae arbennig gyda'r ail orchymyn, ynghylch gwarchod yr amgylchedd a rheoli gwastraff. Yn sicr, ym Mehefin, pan gyfeiriodd y Prif Weinidog at y bwriad i gyflwyno deddfwriaeth yn y maes hwnnw, dywedodd y byddai ganddi 'gwmpas eang', ac y byddai'n gallu 'gwireddu newid gwyrdd yng Nghymru'. Dyna rethreg eang, ac yn sicr fe gafodd radd gynhwysfawr o gefnogaeth drawsbleidiol yn y Siambr hon. Dywedodd y Gweinidog dros Gynaliadwyedd a Datblygu Gwledig, pan gyhoeddwyd y gorchymyn cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol ychydig yn ddiweddarach, y byddai'n:

'galluogi'r Cynulliad i basio Mesurau a allai gael effaith uniongyrchol a chadarnhaol ar ein gallu i wrthsefyll bygythiad y newid yn yr hinsawdd'.

Dyna uchelgais mawr; mae'n cymryd y mater arbennig hwn o ddifrif. Yr ydym yn gweld y Cynulliad yn cynyddu, fel petai, mewn maint, ac yr wyf yn siwr fod pobl Cymru'n disgwyl inni fod mor ddifrifol ag yr ydym ynglyn â chwestiwn yr amgylchedd. Mae ymdeimlad o undod yn y Cynulliad hwn ar y pwynt hwnnw, ac mae'r farn y tu cefn i'r Llywodraeth yn ei hawydd am orchymyn cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol uchelgeisiol.

Fodd bynnag, gwelwn yn awr fod Whitehall yn llawer llai siwr am y drefn hon a'r datblygiad hwn. Mae llawer o bwysau ar Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru, ac mae'n ymddangos i ni—er nad ydym, wrth reswm, yn cymryd rhan yn y sgyrsiau preifat hyn, ond ein gwaith ni yw craffu ar yr hyn sydd yn digwydd—fod llawer iawn o bwysau i gyfyngu'r gorchmynion cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol a nodi eu hamcanion polisi penodol, lle mai'r bwriad, wrth gwrs, yn y cyfansoddiad newydd hwn, yw iddynt ddod â meysydd newydd i mewn i'n cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol ni, meysydd lle gallem wedyn basio Mesurau y gallem eu diddymu ar ryw bwynt yn y dyfodol. Dyna'n amlwg yw bwriad y weithdrefn lunio gorchmynion cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol.

Mae perygl os caiff yr ail orchymyn cymhwysedd deddfwriaethol hwn ei noblo, y daw'n achos prawf ac y bydd yn gosod cynsail ar gyfer gweledigaeth lawer culach o'r hyn y dylem fod yn ei wneud fel corff deddfu. P'run ai y cytunwch y dylem gael pwerau go iawn llawnach fel corff deddfu ai peidio, mae hwn yn fater pwysig sydd o bwys i'r cyhoedd. Beth sy'n mynd i ddigwydd? Nid yn gymaint y bwriad yn y fan yma, ond yr hyn sydd, yn ymarferol, yn dechrau dod i'r amlwg yn awr yn Whitehall.

Mae rhai pobl amlwg yn poeni am y sefyllfa gyfredol. Mae arnaf eisiau dyfynnu rhywun, ond nid wyf yn credu ei bod yn deg ei enwi, ond fe roddaf gliw i chi—mae'n arglwydd ac mae'n bresennol yn y Siambr. Nid oes ots pwy sy'n ceisio ymyrryd, ni wnaf ildio.

Af ymlaen at y dyfyniad, a oedd yn gyngor doeth, Burkeaidd bron:

'Fy nghyngor i yw ei bod yn bwysig o'r cychwyn cydnabod cyfreithlondeb y trefniadau cyfansoddiadol newydd, ac felly, yn arbennig yn y maes polisi hwn o bob maes polisi, y dylid addef...y datganoli mwyaf'.

Aiff hynny i galon y mater: mae pwynt cyfansoddiadol sylfaenol yma. Ymhell o dawelu'n meddyliau, na hyd yn oed gydnabod y gall fod dadl i'w hateb—hyd yn oed os credwch y gellir ateb y ddadl honno'n llwyddiannus—ymateb y Prif Weinidog oedd y credai fod y sefyllfa hon yn normal ac mai dyma y mae'n rhaid i ni ei ddisgwyl yn y dyfodol. Gall lefel uchel o densiwn rhwng Caerdydd a San Steffan fod yn anochel bellach."

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