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Bourne: A budget for the whole of Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I will start by dealing with the issue of the amendment, which the Finance Minister raised during her contribution. It has been tabled for one simple reason: despite the undertaking last year from the First Minister and the Finance Minister to involve us at an early stage in this budget process and to try to avoid a repeat of last year's situation, that did not happen.

Despite the fact that we were clearly available, and had made ourselves available, the only meeting that took place was a few days before the draft budget was tabled.

The Minister said that she made changes to the budget, and that may or may not be true; we did not see the draft budget, so we cannot know whether that was the case. If it was the case, I welcome it, but it was late in the day if those alterations were made.

Had the meetings started much earlier, we could have avoided what happened last year, with that cliff-hanger business of having all those meetings, which will, hopefully, happen now so that you can get your final budget. The process worked last year. Similar messages were given out last year by the Minister and the Labour Party, that all these demands were unreasonable and that we were putting the whole process in jeopardy.

There was a constructive discussion, and I hope that the same thing happens again. However, let it be clear why the draft budget is up for discussion today, together with amendment 1: it is because the process did not start early enough. The ball was in the Government's court, and it did not pick it up when it should have done.

I will now deal with some of the items that the Finance Minister has dealt with. It is clear that she has moved more today, and I acknowledge that. I welcome what she said about foster carers.

I also welcome what she said about community radio. If Jane Davidson was such an effective champion for it, it is surprising that it was not included in the budget in the first place—and she has probably nipped upstairs to write congratulation notes to the opposition parties. However, I welcome what the Minister has said about community radio.

I will deal with some of the other positive points that the Minister made. In fairness, there was some movement on issues such as care homes, cognitive therapies, and refuges, which I welcome. That can, no doubt, form part of our future discussions. However, there are some core issues, which I will return to.

First, if this money for ambulances is allocated in the budget, where is it for future years? Looking at the budget, it seems as though all that money is allocated elsewhere, and, as far as I can see, there is no spare money for ambulances in future years.

We have gone through it, and it is not at all clear that money is available. If money is available, we can again return to this when the discussions take place.

The Minister has not moved an inch on her position as regards schools. As we all know from dealings in our constituencies, and our constituency postbags, schools are back to the bone. They have cut back, making efficiency savings year on year, and any more will result in cuts to essential services in schools.

We now know that these 1 per cent efficiency savings will not be in terms of efficiency, but in terms of essential services to children throughout Wales. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will come back on that with some constructive suggestions as to how we can give some of that 1 per cent back to schools, as that will be necessary this year.

On transport grants, once again, there are clear deficiencies here in public transport and infrastructure, which must be addressed in this budget. We will need to come back to that in discussions.

On farmers, the view from Alyn and Deeside—and from the Minister—is that, somehow, rural Wales does not matter, and that farmers in less favoured areas are somehow akin to East Anglian barley barons with masses of money flowing around. He knows that that is not the case, and that was an ill-judged intervention. These are poor farmers, as the Minister will know, and our amendment seeks to address that.

If there is a European legal issue, which the Finance Minister has suggested, I would like to see the evidence for it; we have searched high and low. These schemes run elsewhere in Europe, so why has the European community singled out Wales for special mistreatment? If it has, let us see the evidence, and we can take it to the European Court of Justice. I do not believe it, frankly. Europe is the scapegoat here for a Labour Party decision.

You will have to come back to this and draw a line in the sand, as you have tried to do, and say 'We are not going to address that issue', which is what I took the Minister to be saying, and that is foolhardy. This issue must be addressed for the good of farmers throughout Wales. There is also a language issue linked to this, because, if we drive these farmers away from the land, it also puts the Welsh language in jeopardy. That is a side-effect of what would happen.

I return briefly to some issues that overhang from last year, which we also need to look at. One is the funding gap with higher education in England and in Scotland. We are seriously disadvantaged in our higher education sector when compared with England. There is no doubt of that in any comparison that can be made based on any set of figures that I have seen.

You undertook to start a process of addressing that funding gap last year. I am not convinced that that has happened, but that was meant to be only a start anyway. That must continue or we are seriously prejudicing our higher education sector in Wales, and that would be to the disadvantage of everyone in Wales for future generations.

Similarly, the Graham review of part-time study was set up in last year's budget round. It needed £15 million, but the group is being given only £10 million in this budget. That is not sufficient and we want to address that.

Railways are another overhang from last year. We will want to look at the rolling stock and at the position on the Ebbw Vale, the mid Wales, the Heart of Wales and the Cambrian coast lines. We must come back to all of them. I understand the Minister saying that subject committees must be involved; of course they do, and we recognise that that is the process.

However, we hope that the Minister will accept that, if the Government and the Assembly are to get a final budget, just as last year, a period of constructive engagement must now take place, which has not happened up until now. We have had no engagement, or at least none to talk of. We really must have that if you are to have your final budget before the end of this term."

"Dechreuaf drwy fynd i'r afael â mater y gwelliant, a godwyd gan y Gweinidog Cyllid yn ystod ei chyfraniad. Mae wedi'i gyflwyno am un rheswm syml: er gwaethaf yr ymrwymiad y llynedd gan y Prif Weinidog a'r Gweinidog Cyllid i'n cynnwys yn gynnar yn y broses gyllideb hon a cheisio osgoi ailadrodd sefyllfa'r llynedd, ni ddigwyddodd hynny.

Er gwaethaf y ffaith ein bod yn amlwg ar gael, ac wedi sicrhau ein bod ar gael, yr unig gyfarfod a ddigwyddodd oedd hwnnw ychydig ddyddiau cyn cyflwyno'r gyllideb ddrafft.

Dywedodd y Gweinidog ei bod wedi gwneud newidiadau i'r gyllideb, ac efallai bod hynny'n wir, efallai ddim; ni welsom y gyllideb ddrafft, felly ni allwn wybod a ddigwyddodd hynny. Os digwyddodd, fe'i croesawaf, ond yr oedd yn hwyr yn y dydd os gwnaethpwyd y newidiadau hynny. Pe bai'r cyfarfodydd wedi dechrau'n llawer cynt, gallem fod wedi osgoi'r hyn a ddigwyddodd y llynedd, gyda'r busnes munud-olaf hwnnw o gael yr holl gyfarfodydd hynny, a fydd, gobeithio, yn digwydd yn awr fel y gallwch gael eich cyllideb derfynol.

Gweithiodd y broses y llynedd. Rhoddwyd negeseuon tebyg y llynedd gan y Gweinidog a'r Blaid Lafur, bod yr holl alwadau hyn yn afresymol a'n bod yn peryglu'r holl broses. Cafwyd trafodaeth adeiladol, a gobeithio y digwydd yr un peth eto. Fodd bynnag, dylai fod yn eglur pam y mae'r gyllideb drafft ger ein bron i'w thrafod heddiw, ynghyd â gwelliant 1: y rheswm yw na ddechreuodd y broses yn ddigon cynnar. Yr oedd y bêl yng nghwrt y Llywodraeth, ac ni wnaeth ei chodi pan ddylasai wneud.

Ymdriniaf yn awr â rhai o'r eitemau y mae'r Gweinidog Cyllid wedi delio â hwy. Mae'n amlwg ei bod hi wedi symud mwy heddiw, a chydnabyddaf hynny. Croesawaf yr hyn a ddywedodd am ofalwyr maeth. Croesawaf yr hyn a ddywedodd am radio cymunedol hefyd.

Os oedd Jane Davidson yn lladmerydd mor effeithiol drosto, mae'n syndod na chafodd ei gynnwys yn y gyllideb yn y lle cyntaf—ac mae'n debyg ei bod hi wedi picio i fyny'r grisiau i ysgrifennu nodiadau llongyfarch i'r gwrthbleidiau. Fodd bynnag, croesawaf yr hyn a ddywedodd y Gweinidog am radio cymunedol.

Deliaf â rhai o'r pwyntiau cadarnhaol eraill a wnaeth y Gweinidog. O ran tegwch, yr oedd rhywfaint o symud ar faterion fel cartrefi gofal, therapïau gwybyddol, a llochesau, sydd i'w groesawu.

Gall hynny, yn ddi-os, ffurfio rhan o'n trafodaethau yn y dyfodol. Fodd bynnag, y mae rhai pynciau craidd, y dychwelaf atynt.

Yn gyntaf, os yw'r arian hwn ar gyfer ambiwlansiau wedi'i ddyrannu yn y gyllideb, ble mae'r arian ar gyfer blynyddoedd i ddod? O edrych ar y gyllideb, mae'n ymddangos fel pe bai'r holl arian hwnnw wedi'i ddyrannu i fannau eraill, a hyd y gwelaf fi, nid oes dim arian sbâr ar gyfer ambiwlansiau yn y blynyddoedd i ddod. Yr ydym wedi mynd drwyddi, ac nid yw'n glir o gwbl bod arian ar gael. Os oes arian ar gael, gallwn ddychwelyd at hyn eto pan gynhelir y trafodaethau.

Nid yw'r Gweinidog wedi symud fodfedd ar ei safiad o ran ysgolion. Fel y gwyddom i gyd o brofiad yn ein hetholaethau, a gohebiaeth ein hetholwyr, mae ysgolion i lawr at yr asgwrn.

Maent wedi cwtogi, gan wneud arbedion effeithlonrwydd flwyddyn ar ôl blwyddyn, a chanlyniad unrhyw gwtogi mwy fydd toriadau mewn gwasanaethau hanfodol yn ein hysgolion. Gwyddom bellach na ddaw'r arbedion effeithlonrwydd 1 y cant hyn drwy effeithlonrwydd, ond drwy gwtogi gwasanaethau hanfodol i blant ar hyd a lled Cymru. Felly, gobeithio y daw'r Gweinidog yn ôl ar hynny gydag awgrymiadau adeiladol ynghylch sut y gallwn roi rhywfaint o'r 1 y cant hwnnw'n ôl i ysgolion, gan y bydd hynny'n angenrheidiol eleni.

O ran grantiau trafnidiaeth, unwaith eto, mae diffygion amlwg yma mewn cludiant cyhoeddus ac isadeiledd, y mae'n rhaid rhoi sylw iddynt yn y gyllideb hon. Bydd angen inni ddod yn ôl at hynny yn ein trafodaethau.

O ran ffermwyr, y farn o Alun a Glannau Dyfrdwy—a gan y Gweinidog—yw nad oes ots, rywsut, am gefn gwlad Cymru, a bod ffermwyr mewn ardaloedd llai ffafriol yn debyg rywsut i farwniaid haidd Dwyrain Anglia gyda llwythi o arian yn llifo o gwmpas. Gwyr ef nad yw hynny'n wir, ac ymyriad annoeth oedd hwnnw. Ffermwyr tlawd yw'r rhain, fel y gwyr y Gweinidog, ac mae ein gwelliant yn ceisio rhoi sylw i hynny.

Os oes cwestiwn gyda chyfraith Ewrop, fel yr awgrymodd y Gweinidog Cyllid, hoffwn weld y dystiolaeth drosto, gan ein bod wedi chwilio ym mhobman. Mae'r cynlluniau hyn yn rhedeg mewn rhannau eraill o Ewrop, felly pam mae'r gymuned Ewropeaidd wedi dewis Cymru i'w cham-drin yn arbennig?

Os gwnaeth hynny, gadewch inni weld y dystiolaeth, a gallwn fynd â hi i Lys Cyfiawnder Ewrop. Nid wyf yn credu hynny, â dweud y gwir. Mae Ewrop yn fwch dihangol yma am benderfyniad gan y Blaid Lafur. Bydd raid ichi ddod yn ôl at hyn a thynnu llinell yn y tywod, fel yr ydych wedi ceisio gwneud, a dweud 'Nid ydym yn mynd i ystyried y mater hwnnw', sef yr hyn y cymerais fod y Gweinidog yn ei ddweud, ac mae hynny'n rhyfygus. Rhaid delio â'r mater hwn er lles ffermwyr drwy Gymru gyfan. Mae cwestiwn iaith yn gysylltiedig â hyn hefyd, oherwydd os gyrrwn y ffermwyr hyn i ffwrdd o'r tir, peryglir yr iaith Gymraeg hefyd. Dyna sgil-effaith i'r hyn a fyddai'n digwydd.

Dychwelaf yn fyr at rai materion sydd yn cario drosodd o'r llynedd, y mae angen edrych arnynt hefyd. Un yw'r bwlch ariannu gydag addysg uwch yn Lloegr ac yn yr Alban. Yr ydym dan anfantais ddifrifol yn ein sector addysg uwch o gymharu â Lloegr.

Nid oes dim amheuaeth am hynny yn unrhyw gymhariaeth y gellir ei gwneud ar sail unrhyw set o ffigurau yr wyf fi wedi'u gweld. Addawsoch ddechrau proses o gau'r bwlch ariannu hwnnw y llynedd. Nid wyf wedi fy narbwyllo bod hynny wedi digwydd, ond dim ond dechrau oedd hynny i fod beth bynnag. Rhaid i hynny barhau neu yr ydym yn peryglu ein sector addysg uwch o ddifrif yng Nghymru, a byddai hynny er gwaeth i bawb yng Nghymru am genedlaethau i ddod.

Yn yr un modd, sefydlwyd adolygiad Graham o astudiaethau rhan amser yng nghylch cyllideb y llynedd. Yr oedd angen £15 miliwn arno, ond dim ond £10 miliwn a roddir i'r grwp yn y gyllideb hon. Nid yw hynny'n ddigon ac mae eisiau rhoi sylw i hynny.

Mae rheilffyrdd yn bwnc arall sy'n cario drosodd o'r llynedd. Bydd arnom eisiau edrych ar y cerbydau ac ar y sefyllfa ar reilffyrdd Glyn Ebwy, y Canolbarth, Calon Cymru ac arfordir y Cambrian. Rhaid inni ddod yn ôl at bob un ohonynt. Deallaf pan ddywed y Gweinidog bod yn rhaid cynnwys pwyllgorau pwnc; wrth gwrs bod rhaid, a chydnabyddwn mai dyna'r broses.

Fodd bynnag, gobeithiwn y gwnaiff y Gweinidog dderbyn, os yw'r Llywodraeth a'r Cynulliad i gael cyllideb derfynol, yn union fel y llynedd rhaid cael cyfnod o drafod adeiladol yn awr, rhywbeth nad yw wedi digwydd hyd yma. Nid ydym wedi cael unrhyw ran yn hyn, neu ddim rhan gwerth sôn amdani beth bynnag. Yn wir, rhaid inni gael hynny os ydych am gael eich cyllideb derfynol cyn diwedd y tymor hwn."

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