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Bourne: Labour and Plaid's budget short-changes schools and universities

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I am disappointed—and I will come back to this point—that the Plaid Cymru group has caved in for so little. The Welsh Conservative group in the National Assembly will oppose the final budget. We did not oppose it last year.

I thank the Finance Minister for presenting the revised and final budget. She has a well-deserved reputation for openness, and the negotiations that we held were without acrimony, and progress was made on many areas—I acknowledge that, and I wish Sue all the best for the future. I also thank colleagues in all opposition parties, as well as the two independent Members—John Marek and Trish Law—who progressed the budget in important areas.

I was disappointed that negotiations did not open at an early stage. We are in this position again this year—as we were last year—because discussions did not happen before the draft budget was laid, which should have happened. There was a brief meeting with the Finance Minister—and I had one myself—but it happened just a few short days before she laid the draft budget.

That meeting was held on the basis of her telling me that she had £74 million available, which she had already committed; that is not really negotiation. I indicated to her the likely areas that the opposition parties would be coming together on—we were not certain at that stage precisely on what grounds—and, to be fair, she has accommodated some of those areas into the draft budget. However, it was a hasty, rushed process at that stage.

I will revisit the amendment that was passed in relation to the draft budget, because that should be our starting point, of honouring the obligation that is owed to the Assembly. It is not about Labour having a budget, or any party having a budget—it is the Assembly's budget, and it was the Assembly that passed the resolution that has to be honoured.

We voted for an increase for the ambulance service, which, to be fair, is contained in the final budget, so we made progress there. We voted for an increase for transport grants, and, once again, this is accommodated in the final budget. We voted for increased money for foster carers—again, that is accommodated in the final budget.

We also asked for financial assistance, for example, for community radio stations—not something, I believe, that had previously been on the Labour Party's list. However, it was accommodated—there must have been some tip-off to the Member who was shortly to become the BBC communicator of the year, because, having previously championed the cause without success, she then raced around the radio stations, claiming credit for it. Never mind, we all welcome it, and I recognise that it was good news; as someone said, in the spirit of Christmas, there we are.

Some separate issues were put into the resolution—largely at the behest of John Marek and Trish Law—on cognitive behaviour therapies, financial assistance for disabled children, additional money for refuges, and money for the Wrexham-Marylebone rail link.

We made progress on all those issues. There was discussion on the Tir Mynydd budget, and I was grateful earlier for the Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside's clarification, confirming that what the First Minister said yesterday was correct—that Tir Mynydd can be restored to its original level, for next year, the year after, and the year after that, dependent on progress being made in the Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee, under the chairmanship of Glyn Davies. I am sure that that progress will be forthcoming.

There were two significant areas of great concern remaining when negotiations broke down, namely money for schools and money to close the funding gap with the higher education sector in England, specifically; measured against other areas, such as Scotland, the gap was even greater. Those negotiations broke down because additional money was not being put on the table.

Sue then laid her final budget, and, a day later, extra money was announced from Westminster, the Barnett consequential of which was £9.3 million. That money was largely—almost exclusively—allocated for education at Westminster. We are now asked to support a final budget where there is only £9.6 million extra. In other words, an extra £300,000 has been wrung out of this Government by Plaid Cymru.

Frankly, that is not good enough, and it is not remotely something that we would have accepted and the leader of Plaid Cymru knows that—the three leaders were absolutely clear that this was in no way within the sort of area that we were looking for in terms of additional moneys for schools and for higher education.

Indeed, there is no extra money going into higher education over and above the £6 million that was already there. The money for fuel was also already there. The only additional money that has been gained, as I see it, is £300,000, which is not a deal that we can remotely accept. It lets down schools and it lets down local authorities.

The 0.3 per cent was already on offer and was agreed in principle; therefore, it was nothing new. Nothing further has been done on closing the gap in higher education, which is a massive gap, as we all know, of somewhere between £36 million at the lower end of the scale and £44 million per annum at the higher end of the scale. It has grown from last year, even though, last year, we did something to try to bridge that gap.

It is a growing gap and we suffer from the serious possibility that, if we do nothing about it, we will not have a first-class higher education system in this country of ours. That is not something that we can accept on this side of the Chamber.

We will stand firm in the stance that we have previously taken. I acknowledge that there has been movement on many areas, but on those two vital areas contained in the amendment that was passed on the draft budget, little progress has been made. It is certainly insufficient.

To come back to the issue of the deal that has been brokered, I regret the breakdown of relationships between the opposition parties. This deal would not have been agreed to by the three of us—I know that, Mike German knows that and Ieuan Wyn Jones knows that. We would not, collectively, have agreed to this deal. The losers in this deal are not the Labour Party, which has won a great victory over this. The losers are schools, universities and local authorities. That is the truth.

In my dealings with the leader of the Plaid Cymru group, for whom I have considerable respect—I do not say that in a patronising way—I often had the feeling that he was having two sets of negotiations. One was with the Government and one with Members in his own party. The one that he found easiest and most congenial was that with the Government. The evidence is there and you can huff and puff, but everyone knows that that is the truth.

Therefore, we will be opposing this budget for those very good reasons—it does not do remotely enough for education and higher education. The losers are the people of Wales, not the Government."

"Yr wyf yn siomedig—a dof yn ôl at y pwynt hwn—bod grwp Plaid Cymru wedi bodloni ar gyn lleied. Bydd grwp Ceidwadwyr Cymru yn y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yn gwrthwynebu'r gyllideb derfynol. Ni wnaethom ei gwrthwynebu y llynedd.

Hoffwn ddiolch i'r Gweinidog Cyllid am gyflwyno'r gyllideb ddiwygiedig a'r gyllideb derfynol. Mae ganddi enw da haeddiannol am fod yn agored, a chynhaliwyd ein trafodaethau heb chwerwedd, a gwnaed cynnydd mewn sawl maes—yr wyf yn cydnabod hynny, a dymunaf yn dda i Sue ar gyfer y dyfodol. Hoffwn ddiolch hefyd i gyd-Aelodau yn yr holl wrthbleidiau, yn ogystal â'r ddau Aelod annibynnol—John Marek a Trish Law—a ddatblygodd y gyllideb mewn meysydd pwysig.

Yr oeddwn yn siomedig nad agorodd y trafodaethau yn gynnar. Yr ydym yn y sefyllfa hon eto eleni—fel y llynedd—am na chynhaliwyd trafodaethau cyn cyflwyno'r gyllideb ddrafft, fel y dylai fod wedi digwydd. Cynhaliwyd cyfarfod byr gyda'r Gweinidog Cyllid—a chefais gyfarfod fy hun—ond digwyddodd hynny ychydig ddyddiau yn unig cyn iddi gyflwyno'r gyllideb ddrafft.

Cynhaliwyd y cyfarfod hwnnw ar sail y ffaith iddi ddweud wrthyf ei bod wedi sicrhau bod £74 miliwn ar gael, yr oedd eisoes wedi'i neilltuo; ni ellir galw hyn yn drafodaeth. Awgrymais iddi pa feysydd y byddai'r gwrthbleidiau yn debygol o uno arnynt—nid oeddem yn bendant bryd hynny ar ba sail y byddai hynny'n digwydd—ac, i fod yn deg, mae wedi cynnwys rhai o'r meysydd hynny yn y gyllideb ddrafft. Fodd bynnag, proses frysiog a gafwyd bryd hynny.

Byddaf yn ailystyried y gwelliant a basiwyd mewn perthynas â'r gyllideb ddrafft, oherwydd dyna ddylai fod yn fan cychwyn inni, sef parchu'r rhwymedigaeth sy'n ddyledus i'r Cynulliad. Nid trafod cyllideb y blaid Lafur yr ydym, na chyllideb unrhyw blaid arall—cyllideb y Cynulliad ydyw, a'r Cynulliad a basiodd y penderfyniad y mae'n rhaid ei barchu.

Bu inni bleidleisio i gael cynnydd ar gyfer y gwasanaeth ambiwlans, sydd wedi'i gynnwys yn y gyllideb derfynol, a bod yn deg, felly gwnaed cynnydd yn y cyd-destun. Bu inni bleidleisio i gael cynnydd ar gyfer grantiau trafnidiaeth, ac, unwaith eto, cafodd hyn ei gynnwys yn y gyllideb derfynol. Bu inni bleidleisio i gael mwy o arian i ofalwyr maeth—unwaith eto, mae hyn wedi'i gynnwys yn y gyllideb derfynol. Hefyd bu inni ofyn am gymorth ariannol, er enghraifft, ar gyfer gorsafoedd radio cymunedol—nad yw'n rhywbeth a welwyd ar restr y Blaid Lafur o'r blaen, mi gredaf.

Fodd bynnag, cafodd ei gynnwys—rhaid bod yr Aelod a fyddai'n cael ei gwneud yn gyfathrebwr y flwyddyn y BBC yn fuan wedi hynny wedi cael rhybudd o hyn, oherwydd, ar ôl hyrwyddo'r achos yn ofer cyn hynny, aeth o amgylch y gorsafoedd radio, yn cymryd y clod dros hyn. Bid a fo am hynny, mae pawb ohonom yn croesawu hyn, ac yr wyf yn cydnabod ei fod yn newyddion da; fel y dywedodd rhywun, yn ysbryd y Nadolig, dyna ni.

Cynhwyswyd rhai materion ar wahân yn y penderfyniad—yn bennaf ar gais John Marek a Trish Law—ar therapi gwybyddol ymddygiadol, cymorth ariannol i blant anabl, arian ychwanegol i lochesi, ac arian i'r cyswllt rheilffordd rhwng Wrecsam a Marylebone. Gwnaed cynnydd ar yr holl faterion hyn. Cafwyd trafodaeth ar gyllideb Tir Mynydd, ac yr oeddwn yn ddiolchgar yn gynharach am eglurhad y Gweinidog dros yr Amgylchedd, Cynllunio a Chefn Gwlad, yn cadarnhau bod yr hyn a ddywedodd y Prif Weinidog ddoe yn gywir—y gellir adfer Tir Mynydd i'w lefel wreiddiol, ar gyfer y flwyddyn nesaf, y flwyddyn wedyn, a'r flwyddyn wedyn, yn dibynnu ar y cynnydd a wnaed ym Mhwyllgor yr Amgylchedd, Cynllunio a Chefn Gwlad, o dan gadeiryddiaeth Glyn Davies. Yr wyf yn siwr y gwelwn y cynnydd hwnnw maes o law.

Yr oedd dau faes pwysig o bryder ar ôl pan fethodd y trafodaethau, sef arian i ysgolion ac arian i gau'r bwlch ariannu gyda'r sector addysg uwch yn Lloegr, yn benodol; o fesur yn erbyn ardaloedd eraill, fel yr Alban, yr oedd y bwlch hyd yn oed yn fwy. Methodd y trafodaethau hynny gan na chyflwynwyd arian ychwanegol.

Yna cyflwynodd Sue ei chyllideb derfynol a, ddiwrnod yn ddiweddarach, cyhoeddwyd arian ychwanegol gan San Steffan, a chanlyniad hynny yng nghyd-destun Barnett oedd £9.3 miliwn. Yr oedd yr arian hwnnw—bron yn gyfan gwbl—wedi'i ddyrannu ar gyfer addysg yn San Steffan. Bellach gofynnir inni gefnogi cyllideb derfynol lle mai dim ond £9.6 miliwn ychwanegol a geir. Mae hyn yn golygu bod Plaid Cymru wedi gwasgu £300,000 ychwanegol o'r Llywodraeth hon.

A dweud y gwir, nid yw hynny'n ddigon da, ac nid yw'n rhywbeth y byddem wedi'i dderbyn o bell ffordd ac mae arweinydd Plaid Cymru yn gwybod hynny—yr oedd y tri arweinydd yn hollol glir nad oedd hyn yn agos at y canlyniad yr oeddem am ei gael o ran arian ychwanegol i ysgolion ac addysg uwch.

Yn wir, nid oes unrhyw arian ychwanegol yn mynd i addysg uwch ac eithrio'r £6 miliwn a oedd yno eisoes. Yr oedd yr arian ar gyfer tanwydd yno eisoes. Yr unig arian ychwanegol a gafwyd, hyd y gwelaf i, yw £300,000, ac nid yw hyn yn gynnig y gallwn ei dderbyn o bell ffordd. Mae'n siom i ysgolion ac yn siom i awdurdodau lleol. Yr oedd y 0.3 y cant eisoes wedi'i gynnig a chytunwyd arno o ran egwyddor; felly, nid oedd yn unrhyw beth newydd. Ni wnaed unrhyw beth pellach o ran cau'r bwlch ym maes addysg uwch, sy'n fwlch anferth, fel y gwyddom, o rhwng £36 miliwn ar waelod y raddfa a £44 miliwn y flwyddyn ar frig y raddfa.

Mae wedi cynyddu ers y llynedd, er inni wneud rhywbeth i geisio cau'r bwlch y llynedd. Mae'n fwlch sy'n cynyddu ac yr ydym yn wynebu'r posibilrwydd difrifol, os na wnawn unrhyw beth yn ei gylch, na fydd gennym system addysg uwch o'r radd flaenaf yn y wlad hon. Nid yw hynny'n rhywbeth y gallwn ei dderbyn ar yr ochr hon o'r Siambr.

Byddwn yn sefyll yn gadarn o ran y safiad a gymerwyd gennym. Yr wyf yn cydnabod y cafwyd symudiad mewn sawl maes, ond o ran y ddau faes hanfodol hynny a gafwyd yn y gwelliant a basiwyd ar y gyllideb ddrafft, ni wnaed llawer o gynnydd. Nid yw'n ddigonol yn bendant.

Er mwyn dychwelyd at fater y cynnig a wnaed, yr wyf yn gresynu ynghylch y chwalfa yn y gydberthynas rhwng y gwrthbleidiau. Gwn na fyddai'r tri ohonom wedi cytuno ar y cynnig hwn—mae Mike German yn gwybod hynny ac mae Ieuan Wyn Jones yn gwybod hynny. Ni fyddem, gyda'n gilydd, wedi cytuno ar y cynnig hwn. Nid y Blaid Lafur sydd ar ei cholled o ran y cynnig hwn, cawsant fuddugoliaeth fawr. Ysgolion, prifysgolion ac awdurdodau lleol sydd ar eu colled. Dyna yw'r gwirionedd.

Wrth ddelio gydag arweinydd grwp Plaid Cymru, y mae gennyf barch mawr tuag ato—nid wyf yn dweud hynny mewn ffordd nawddoglyd—yn aml cefais y teimlad ei fod yn cynnal dwy drafodaeth. Un drafodaeth gyda'r Llywodraeth ac un arall gydag Aelodau ei blaid ei hun. Y drafodaeth hawsaf a mwyaf cydnaws oedd yr un gyda'r Llywodraeth. Mae'r dystiolaeth yno a gallwch godi stwr, ond gwyr pawb fod hynny'n wir.

Felly, byddwn yn gwrthwynebu'r gyllideb hon am y rhesymau da iawn hynny—ni wna ddigon o bell ffordd ar gyfer addysg ac addysg uwch. Pobl Cymru sydd ar eu colled, nid y Llywodraeth."

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