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Bourne: Labour's undemocratic plan for Welsh democracy

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate this afternoon. The Committee on the Government of Wales Bill has been anything but a consensual committee. I set that out from the start; every vote we have taken has seen the Government on one side and the opposition on the other.

The Government did not give way on a single amendment, and one had the distinct feeling throughout—and this was not limited to me—that the line was being driven by London, and that any matter referred was referred by the Minister to London, for a line. The Business Minister is smiling, but I will happily give way to her to hear of any amendment that she has accepted from an opposition party.

The report is published, and people can read it: it was 5 for and 5 against, with the Presiding Officer's casting vote against, on every conceivable issue. Some of those issue divide the parties, some, frankly, do not, but the Government at Westminster was so determined that every single jot and iota of this Bill would remain unaltered that the Government has not given way on a single item.

I come to the joint amendments that have been referred to by the leader of the opposition. None of the issues that we are seeking to amend were in the Richard commission report. There was no mention of dual candidacy in the Richard commission report, and the proposal to ban people from standing on the list and in a first-past-the-post election did not find favour with the Electoral Reform Society, an independent body, nor with the Electoral Commission, which said that it would add to the prevailing distrust of politicians.

How true that is. It is not something that is applied in Scotland, it is not something that the Arbuthnott committee recommended for Scotland, and it is not something that the Government encouraged when it was brought forward in relation to Scotland—it was voted down there. Why was it voted down in Scotland? Could it be to do with the fact that that favours the Labour Party in Scotland, but does not in Wales? If this is not a partisan measure, how come no-one other than the Labour Party supports this particular amendment? As I said, it was not in the Richard commission report.

I move to the second joint amendment on d'Hondt and clause 29 of the Bill. This, again, is a partisan measure, which Labour has sometimes pretended is a fallback provision. It is not a fallback provision, it is on the face of the Bill, and it means that if the Labour Party loses power here and remains the largest party, which is at least possible, it will remain the largest party on committees.

That is distinctly and undeniably undemocratic, and I do not see how anyone who believes in democracy can defend it, but they do. Once again, this was not in the Richard commission report.

The third joint amendment is on the trigger for a referendum, which is set at two thirds, and that is not just two thirds of the Members voting, but two thirds of all Members, whether they vote or not. This is undemocratic, and there is no precedent for it anywhere in the British constitution. It is all about a narrow, party-driven machine that wants to remain in power: if it loses power here, it does not want anyone else to exercise it. That is what this is all about. It is a mean, divisive measure, and it was not in the Richard commission report.

I remember, as will the First Minister, the day that the Richard commission report was published, when he welcomed the unanimous report and said how proud he was of his nation. We had the distinct feeling that perhaps he would get behind it and push, because he said that he would. He pushed for a while, until he found Peter Hain pushing in the opposite direction, and then it was different, because the Labour Party could not agree on it. This is all about keeping the Labour Party together; this is not about the interests of Wales at all.

I move to the other amendments, all of which we will support, except for amendment 4, on which we will abstain, and amendment 8, which we will vote against. To turn to our amendments, amendment 14, on the children's commissioner, is a perfectly sensible amendment and not at all party-driven, which is to ensure that the children's commissioner should not be able to hold political office. The Government was unable to accept that, because the line from London was 'Let's hold the line, members of the Labour Party, we don't want to give way on anything'.

Similarly, on amendment 13, on the deletion of Part 3 of the Bill, there was nothing about Orders in Council in the Richard commission report, which the First Minister welcomed so much on the day that it was published, until Peter Hain told him, 'No, we're not going to welcome it', and then he changed his mind. We would delete part 3 and move straight to having a referendum on the all-important issue of legislative powers.

That shows that we are well ahead of the game in terms of a clear and expeditious route for legislative powers, which the Labour Party does not have. The Labour Party is hopelessly divided on these issues, and all of the issues that are so contentious in the Bill were not in the Richard commission report and were not on Labour's agenda until Labour decided that it had to keep things together.

It wanted to avoid a referendum, and not because it was afraid of losing it—I do not believe that for a minute. The real reason is as stated in the amendment put forward by Plaid Cymru: it is afraid of losing Labour MPs at Westminster. Why? It is because it is afraid of losing power at Westminster. Hasten the day, and let us get this place on a proper footing and have this referendum sooner rather than later."

"Yr wyf yn ddiolchgar am y cyfle i gyfrannu at y ddadl hon y prynhawn yma. Bu'r Pwyllgor ar Fesur Llywodraeth Cymru yn bell o fod yn bwyllgor cydsyniol. Nodais hynny o'r cychwyn; mae pob pleidlais a gynhaliwyd gennym wedi gweld y Llywodraeth ar yr un ochr a'r gwrthbleidiau ar y llall. Nid ildiodd y Llywodraeth ar yr un gwelliant, a theimlid drwyddi draw—ac nid dim ond fi oedd yn teimlo hyn—mai Llundain oedd yn rhoi'r cyfarwyddyd, a bod unrhyw fater a gyfeiriwyd wedi'i gyfeirio gan y Gweinidog i Lundain, i gael cyfarwyddyd.

Mae'r Trefnydd yn gwenu, ond yr wyf yn fodlon ildio iddi i glywed am unrhyw welliant y mae wedi'i dderbyn gan wrthblaid. Mae'r adroddiad wedi'i gyhoeddi, a gall pobl ei ddarllen: yr oedd 5 o blaid a 5 yn erbyn, gyda phleidlais fwrw y Llywydd yn erbyn, ar bob mater posibl.

Mae rhai o'r materion hynny yn rhannu'r pleidiau, nid yw eraill yn gwneud hynny, ond yr oedd y Llywodraeth yn San Steffan mor benderfynol y byddai pob un rhan o'r Mesur hwn yn aros heb ei newid fel nad yw'r Llywodraeth wedi ildio ar yr un eitem.

Dof at y gwelliannau ar y cyd y cyfeiriodd arweinydd yr wrthblaid atynt. Nid oedd yr un o'r materion y ceisiwn eu diwygio wedi'u cynnwys yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard. Ni soniwyd am ymgeisyddiaeth ddeuol yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard, ac nid oedd y cynnig i wahardd pobl rhag sefyll ar y rhestr ac mewn etholaeth y cyntaf i'r felin yn rhyngu bodd y Gymdeithas Diwygio Etholiadol, sef corff annibynnol, na'r Comisiwn Etholiadol, a ddywedodd y byddai'n ychwanegu at y diffyg ymddiriedaeth sydd gan bobl mewn gwleidyddion yn gyffredinol.

Mae hynny'n ddigon gwir. Nid yw'n rhywbeth a gymhwysir yn yr Alban, nid yw'n rhywbeth a argymhellwyd gan bwyllgor Arbuthnott ar gyfer yr Alban, ac nid yw'n rhywbeth a anogwyd gan y Llywodraeth pan y'i cyflwynwyd mewn perthynas â'r Alban—fe'i gwrthodwyd yno.

Pam y cafodd ei wrthod yn yr Alban? A allai fod a wnelo hynny â'r ffaith bod gwneud hynny yn fuddiol i'r Blaid Lafur yn yr Alban, ond nad yw'n fuddiol i'r blaid Lafur yng Nghymru? Os nad yw hwn yn fesur pleidiol, pam nad oes unrhyw un heblaw'r Blaid Lafur yn cefnogi'r gwelliant penodol hwn? Fel y dywedais, nid oedd wedi'i gynnwys yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard.

Symudaf at yr ail welliant ar y cyd ar d'Hondt a chymal 29 y Mesur. Mae hwn unwaith eto yn fesur pleidiol, y mae'r Blaid Lafur wedi esgus weithiau ei fod yn ddarpariaeth wrth gefn. Nid yw'n ddarpariaeth wrth gefn, mae ar wyneb y Mesur, a golyga os bydd y Blaid Lafur yn colli pwer yma ac os mai hi fydd y blaid fwyaf o hyd, sydd yn bosibl o leiaf, hi fydd y blaid fwyaf ar y pwyllgorau o hyd. Mae hynny yn amlwg yn annemocrataidd, ni ellir gwadu hynny, ac ni welaf sut y gall unrhyw un sy'n credu mewn democratiaeth ei amddiffyn, ond dyna a wnânt. Unwaith eto, nid oedd hwn wedi'i gynnwys yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard.

Mae a wnelo'r trydydd gwelliant ar y cyd â'r amodau cyn cynnal refferendwm, sef bod dwy ran o dair o'r Aelodau yn gorfod pleidleisio dros hynny, ac nid dim ond dwy ran o dair o'r Aelodau sy'n pleidleisio yw hynny, ond dwy ran o dair o'r holl Aelodau, pa un a ydynt yn pleidleisio ai peidio.

Mae hyn yn annemocrataidd, ac nid oes cynsail drosto unrhyw le yng nghyfansoddiad Prydain. Mae'n ymwneud yn llwyr â budd un blaid sydd am aros mewn grym: os bydd yn colli pwer yma, nid yw am i neb arall ei arfer. Dyna holl ddiben hyn. Mae'n fesur crintachlyd sy'n peri rhwyg ac nid oedd wedi'i gynnwys yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard.

Yr wyf yn cofio, fel y bydd y Prif Weinidog, diwrnod cyhoeddi adroddiad comisiwn Richard, pan groesawodd yr adroddiad unfrydol gan ddweud faint yr oedd yn ymfalchïo yn ei genedl. Teimlem efallai y byddai'n ei gefnogi ac yn ei wthio, am iddo ddweud y byddai'n gwneud hynny. Gwthiodd am ychydig, tan iddo ganfod bod Peter Hain yn gwthio i'r cyfeiriad arall, ac yna yr oedd pethau'n wahanol, am na allai'r Blaid Lafur gytuno arno. Mae a wnelo hyn oll â chadw'r Blaid Lafur gyda'i gilydd; nid oes a wnelo hyn â buddiannau Cymru o gwbl.

Symudaf at y gwelliannau eraill, y byddwn yn cefnogi pob un ohonynt, ac eithrio gwelliant 4, y byddwn yn ymatal arno, a gwelliant 8, y byddwn yn pleidleisio yn ei erbyn. I droi at ein gwelliannau, mae gwelliant 14, ar y comisiynydd plant, yn welliant gwbl synhwyrol ac nid yw'n bleidiol o gwbl, sef sicrhau na ddylai fod gan y comisiynydd plant yr hawl i ddal swydd wleidyddol. Ni allai'r Llywodraeth dderbyn hynny, gan mai'r cyfarwyddyd o Lundain oedd 'Gadewch inni ddilyn y cyfarwyddyd, aelodau o'r Blaid Lafur, nid ydym am ildio ar ddim'.

Yn yr un modd, ar welliant 13, o ran dileu Rhan 3 o'r Mesur, nid oedd unrhyw beth am Orchmynion yn y Cyfrin Gyngor yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard, a groesawodd y Prif Weinidog gymaint ar y diwrnod y'i cyhoeddwyd, tan i Peter Hain ddweud wrtho, 'Na, nid ydym yn mynd i'w groesawu', ac yna newidiodd ei feddwl. Byddem yn dileu rhan 3 ac yn symud yn syth at gael refferendwm ar bwerau deddfu, sef mater hollbwysig.

Dengys hynny ein bod yn bell ar y blaen o ran llwybr clir a hwylus ar gyfer pwerau deddfu, nad oes gan y Blaid Lafur. Mae'r Blaid Lafur yn anobeithiol o ranedig ar y materion hyn, ac nid oedd yr holl faterion sydd mor ddadleuol yn y Mesur wedi'u cynnwys yn adroddiad comisiwn Richard ac nid oeddent ar agenda Llafur tan i'r Blaid Lafur benderfynu bod yn rhaid iddi gadw'r blaid at ei gilydd. Yr oedd am osgoi refferendwm, ac nid am ei bod yn ofni ei golli—ni chredaf hynny am funud.

Mae'r rheswm gwirioneddol fel y'i nodwyd yn y gwelliant a gyflwynwyd gan Blaid Cymru: mae'n ofni colli ASau Llafur yn San Steffan. Pam? Y rheswm yw am ei bod yn ofni colli pwer yn San Steffan. Brysied y dydd, a gadewch inni ymsefydlu'r lle hwn yn iawn a chynnal y refferendwm hwn gorau po gyntaf."

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