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Bourne: Minister's competence in question

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"First, I have some words on what this motion is not about in response to the only person to have personalised this debate at all—it is not in any way an attack on the son of a Rhondda miner. As the grandson of a train driver, that is not something in which I would ever wish to indulge.

This censure motion is the first that has been tabled in this second Assembly. It has been used sparingly; let us make that absolutely clear. This censure motion is not about the budget of the Minister. He told us about the investment that he is making; he has tried that tactic before. You can be an incompetent Minister with a large budget, and you can be a competent Minister with a small budget—it has nothing to do with the budget.

Nor does it have anything to do with access. We are committed to access to the arts, and want it increased. I do not think that anyone has fairly said that Geraint Talfan Davies did not have that agenda—he clearly did. The Arts Council of Wales has that agenda, therefore this is not about access either.

It is about issues of competence, it is about the handling, or mishandling, of the arts community and of the Welsh language. For the past year and a half, the Minister has lurched from one crisis to another, alienating the arts community and jeopardising progress on the Welsh language.

We feel that enough is enough. We do not believe that we will get this censure motion carried today. We know that that will not be the case, but that does not mean that there is no point in focusing attention on the incompetence, as we see it, that has happened.

This censure motion is not about party political differences on arts policy. Of course, we will have differences with the Government party; we know that. It is not about bringing the big six in-house.

We disagree with that, but it is not about that. It is specifically about two major and important issues—one relating to the arts and one to the Welsh language—that we believe go to the root of handling valuable communities that are integral to Wales.

I turn first to the arts council. The bungling way in which the interim chair has been appointed has been dreadful. I wish that I had spoken before that Member because I was going to say that of course we wish the interim chair the very best. However, that does not mean that the handling of this key issue has been carried forward with any sense at all.

On the way that this has been handled, when the Minister told Geraint Talfan Davies just before Christmas that he would not be reappointed—effectively sacking him, because competent chairs are reappointed—there was no process put in place to appoint a new chair.

This must have happened quickly. He was not in a position to have a new chair appointed, therefore the idea that this is the opposition's fault, which he has sought to say before, is ridiculous. There is no way that a new chair would have been in post before the end of March.

The entire arts council came along in the meantime and asked for Geraint Talfan Davies to be reappointed. Indeed, the bulk of the arts community wanted that. What did the Minister do? He refused to reappoint him and, in the process, he united the arts community as never before.

It is a very diverse community and, as we all know, it is difficult to unite arts communities on anything. If the Minister has done one thing, he has succeeded in doing that.

I turn to the Welsh language, which is the other key issue. The Minister is responsible for these two important areas. What could be more important than the handling of the Welsh language? We still do not know where we are on the dyfarnydd.

That is a key issue that has not really been touched upon, but which it is central to this motion of censure. The motion is not just about the handling of the arts, but the Welsh language as well. We might not have tabled it had there been one area of concern alone, but there are two key issues that have to be addressed by the Minister. I hope that today, after this vote, he will address those issues, because they are vital. Let us be clear about that.

I have written to the Minister and the First Minister about comments made by a special adviser—whom I will not name—attacking the Welsh Language Board in an absolutely unforgivable way, attacking public servants who cannot defend themselves.

We would certainly not have entered into that and I am surprised and disappointed that neither the Minister, nor the First Minister, have distanced themselves publicly from the intolerable comments made by that special adviser about the Welsh Language Board and our precious language. It was absolutely unforgivable.

For those two reasons, we have proposed this motion today. I urge people to vote for it. It has not been proposed in a light-hearted way; we considered the matter seriously before putting it forward."

"Yn gyntaf, hoffwn sôn am yr hyn nad yw'n gysylltiedig â'r cynnig hwn mewn ymateb i'r unig berson i bersonoleiddio'r ddadl hon mewn unrhyw ffordd—nid yw'n ymosodiad mewn unrhyw ffordd ar fab glowr o'r Rhondda. Fel un o wyrion gyrrwr trên, nid yw hynny'n rhywbeth y byddem am ei wneud erioed. Y cynnig o gerydd hwn yw'r cynnig cyntaf o'r fath a gyflwynwyd yn ystod yr ail Gynulliad hwn.

Prin y'i defnyddiwyd; gadewch inni egluro hynny. Nid oes a wnelo'r cynnig o gerydd hwn â chyllideb y Gweinidog. Dywedodd wrthym am ei fuddsoddiad; mae wedi rhoi cynnig ar y dacteg honno o'r blaen. Gallwch fod yn Weinidog anghymwys â chyllideb fawr, a gallwch fod yn Weinidog cymwys â chyllideb fach—nid yw a wnelo mewn unrhyw ffordd â'r gyllideb. Nid yw a wnelo ychwaith â mynediad.

Yr ydym yn ymrwymedig i fynediad i'r celfyddydau, ac am gynyddu'r mynediad hwnnw. Ni chredaf i unrhyw un ddweud yn deg nad oedd gan Geraint Talfan Davies yr agenda honno—yr oedd hynny'n amlwg. Mae gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru yr agenda honno, felly nid yw a wnelo â mynediad ychwaith.

Mae a wnelo â medrusrwydd, mae a wnelo â thrin, neu gam-drin, y gymuned gelfyddydol a'r Gymraeg. Ers blwyddyn a hanner, mae'r Gweinidog wedi gwegian o un argyfwng i un arall, gan ddieithrio'r gymuned gelfyddydol a rhoi cynnydd ar y Gymraeg yn y fantol.

Teimlwn mai digon yw digon. Ni chredwn y caiff ein cynnig o gerydd ei dderbyn heddiw. Gwyddom nad dyna fydd yr achos, ond nid yw hynny'n golygu nad oes pwynt tynnu sylw at anfedrusrwydd y sefyllfa, fel y gwelwn ninnau'r sefyllfa honno.

Nid oes a wnelo'r cynnig o gerydd hwn â gwahaniaethau pleidiol ar bolisi'r celfyddydau. Wrth gwrs, bydd gwahaniaeth barn rhyngom ni â phlaid y Llywodraeth; gwyddom hynny. Nid yw a wnelo â dod â'r chwe phrif sefydliad o dan adain y Llywodraeth.

Yr ydym yn anghytuno â hynny, ond nid yw a wnelo â hynny. Mae a wnelo'n benodol â dau brif fater pwysig—un yn gysylltiedig â'r celfyddydau ac un â'r Gymraeg—sydd wrth wraidd sut y dylid trin cymunedau gwerthfawr sy'n holl bwysig i Gymru.

Trof yn gyntaf at gyngor y celfyddydau. Bu'r ffordd ddi-drefn y penodwyd y cadeirydd interim yn warthus. Trueni na fyddwn wedi siarad cyn yr Aelod hwnnw gan fy mod wedi bwriadu dweud wrth gwrs ein bod yn dymuno'n dda i'r cadeirydd interim. Fodd bynnag, nid yw hynny'n golygu i'r mater allweddol hwn gael ei drin yn synhwyrol mewn unrhyw ffordd.

O ran y ffordd yr ymdriniwyd â'r mater hwn, pan ddywedodd y Gweinidog wrth Geraint Talfan Davies cyn y Nadolig na fyddai'n cael ei ailbenodi—gan ei ddiswyddo i bob pwrpas, oherwydd caiff cadeiryddion cymwys eu hailbenodi—ni roddwyd proses ar waith i benodi cadeirydd newydd.

Rhaid bod hyn wedi digwydd yn gyflym. Nid oedd mewn sefyllfa i benodi cadeirydd newydd, felly mae'r syniad mai bai'r wrthblaid ydyw, y ceisiodd ei awgrymu yn flaenorol, yn wirion. Nid oes unrhyw ffordd y byddai cadeirydd newydd wedi dechrau yn ei swydd cyn diwedd mis Mawrth.

Yn y cyfamser, daeth y cyngor cyfan ato gan ofyn iddo ailbenodi Geraint Talfan Davies. Yn wir, dyna yr oedd y rhan fwyaf o'r gymuned gelfyddydol yn ei ddymuno. Beth a wnaeth y Gweinidog? Gwrthododd ei ailbenodi a, thrwy wneud hynny, llwyddodd i uno'r gymuned gelfyddydol mewn ffordd nas gwelwyd erioed o'r blaen.

Mae'n gymuned amrywiol iawn ac, fel y gwyr pob un ohonom, mae'n anodd uno cymunedau celfyddydol ar unrhyw beth. Os yw'r Gweinidog wedi gwneud un peth, llwyddodd i wneud hynny.

Trof at y Gymraeg, sef y mater allweddol arall. Mae'r Gweinidog yn gyfrifol am y ddau faes pwysig hwn. Beth allai fod yn bwysicach nag ymdrin â'r Gymraeg? Ni wyddom beth yw'r sefyllfa o hyd o ran y dyfarnydd. Mae hynny'n fater allweddol nas trafodwyd o gwbl mewn gwirionedd, ond sy'n ganolog i'r cynnig o gerydd hwn.

Nid oes a wnelo'r cynnig ag ymdrin â'r celfyddydau yn unig, ond â'r Gymraeg hefyd. Efallai na fyddem wedi'i gyflwyno pe baem ond yn pryderu am un maes, ond mae dau fater allweddol y mae'n rhaid i'r Gweinidog ymdrin â hwy. Gobeithiaf heddiw, ar ôl y bleidlais hon, y bydd yn ymdrin â'r materion hynny, gan eu bod yn hanfodol. Gadewch inni egluro hynny.

Ysgrifennais at y Gweinidog a'r Prif Weinidog ynghylch sylwadau a wnaed gan gynghorydd arbennig—nad enwaf—yn ymosod ar Fwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg mewn ffordd gwbl anfaddeuol, gan ymosod ar weision sifil na allant amddiffyn eu hunain.

Yn sicr, ni fyddem wedi bod yn rhan o hynny ac yr wyf yn synnu ac yn siomedig nad yw'r Gweinidog, na'r Prif Weinidog, wedi nodi'n gyhoeddus nad oeddent yn gysylltiedig â'r sylwadau annioddefol a wnaed gan y cynghorydd arbennig hwnnw am Fwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg a'n hiaith werthfawr. Yr oedd yn gwbl anfaddeuol. Am y ddau reswm hwnnw, yr ydym wedi cynnig y cynnig hwn heddiw. Erfyniaf ar bobl i bleidleisio o'i blaid. Nis cynigiwyd mewn ffordd ysgafn; bu inni ystyried y mater yn ddwys cyn ei gyflwyno."

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