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Melding: Government of Wales Bill is a recipe for confusion

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"The Minister left us with an incredible vision that, down in the saloon bar of the 'Dog and Order in Council', they talk of nothing but the Government of Wales Bill and how the Labour Party has found the centre of gravity on devolution.

I find it incredible that Labour has the gall to come here and say that, on the one hand, the popularity of this Government is such that devolution is soaring in the polls, while, on the other hand, the Government does not have the guts to put the real question to the people of Wales, which, incidentally, should have been put in 1997: should this be a proper Parliament to balance the fact that we already have—at least in legal terms—a proper Government?

It does not know what to do with its powers, but that is a different matter. I find it incredible that the way that this Bill has been examined in the Assembly has led to no intellectual curiosity whatsoever on the Labour benches; they accept completely what is proposed by their colleagues in Westminster.

I do not know if Stalin ever wrote poetry—it would, no doubt, have been exceptionally bad poetry had he done so. Given his personality, he would probably have passed his first draft to a minion and said, 'Please criticise it freely', and the minion would have come back with some epic poem of praise saying that it should not be altered in any way, not one jot or comma.

That is the approach that we seem to have had from the Government. It looked at a Bill of over 140 clauses, and did it propose an amendment? Not a sausage; not a cocktail sausage came from the Minister. She has completely swallowed everything. I am grateful for the mixed metaphor that has come from my right—'hook, line and sinker'.

Let us return to the Order in Council, because it is very much like the first day of a slick New Labour budget. It seemed such a clever idea to those who support it; indeed, it confused others for a little while. After a few days, it all started to unravel under the light of scrutiny.

What is an Order in Council? It either leaves a veto in another legislature, or with another Government Minister—not in this Government—or it, in effect, creates primary powers. It gives you an elegant system that saves the notional sovereignty of Parliament, in that everything has to go through Westminster, but it is the equivalent of the Royal Assent. If that is the way that you expect Orders in Council to operate—that powers will be given on request in any area for which the Government has devolved responsibility in Wales—you should have the guts to say that that is primary powers.

You should go to the people of Wales and ask whether they approve or not. That is why we tabled amendment 13. It would do away with Part 3 of the Bill, which creates this peculiar mechanism—unique, as far as I can work out, in the English-speaking world—and put in Part 4, which would create a Scottish-style Parliament or a Northern-Ireland-style Assembly that could pass laws and hold its Government properly to account in that process. That would have been the way to take forward the constitutional settlement and the way to better balance the British constitution.

However, it would have had one consequence, namely that the number of MPs from Wales—and I now address Gwenda Thomas's points—like the number of MPs from Scotland, would have been reduced to a figure based on the population. This talk of not having our say on macro-economic and defence policy is nonsense.

We would have as much of a say as the people of England and we would have as many representatives as England per head of population. So, let us not let this Labour Party off the hook. It is Labour that wants this system; it wants mock primary powers. We have everything other than an Act of Parliament, but that is their function.

Yet, we still have a system that over-represents the Labour Party in Westminster because you know that the next general election will be a tighter contest than the last election and you may have to generate your majority in other parts of the United Kingdom. That is your motivation.

I am genuinely disappointed that the position of children's commissioner is not excluded, on the face of the Bill, from the ability to stand for election to the Assembly.

I think that that office stands alongside the auditor general and the ombudsman. It has that dignity and weight. Finally, although it could not have been delivered in this Bill because another Act of Parliament is involved, I believe that the children's commissioner should be appointed by the Assembly and not by the Welsh Assembly Government."

"Rhoddodd y Gweinidog inni weledigaeth anghredadwy eu bod, i lawr ym mar salwn y 'Dog and Order in Council', yn siarad am ddim byd ond Mesur Llywodraeth Cymru a sut i'r Blaid Lafur ganfod craidd disgyrchiant ar ddatganoli.

Mae'n anhygoel fod Llafur yn ddigon eofn i ddod yma a dweud, ar y naill ochr, fod y Llywodraeth hon mor boblogaidd nes bod datganoli yn mynd yn fwyfwy poblogaidd ymhlith y bobl, ond ar yr ochr arall, nid yw'r Llywodraeth yn ddigon dewr i roi'r cwestiwn gwirioneddol i bobl Cymru, a ddylai, gyda llaw, fod wedi'i roi yn 1997: a ddylai hon fod yn Senedd go iawn i gydbwyso'r effaith bod gennym—o leiaf yn gyfreithiol—Lywodraeth go iawn?

Ni wyr beth i'w wneud â'i phwerau, ond mae hynny'n fater gwahanol. Mae'n anhygoel nad yw'r ffordd yr archwiliwyd y Mesur yn y Cynulliad wedi arwain at unrhyw chwilfrydedd deallusol ar feinciau Llafur; derbyniant yr hyn a gynigir gan eu cyd-aelodau yn San Steffan yn llwyr.

Ni wn a gyfansoddodd Stalin farddoniaeth erioed—byddai wedi bod yn farddoniaeth eithriadol o wael, yn ddiau, pe bai wedi gwneud. O gofio sut un ydoedd, byddai wedi rhoi'r drafft cyntaf i was bach a dweud, 'Beirniada hon fel y mynni', a byddai'n rhaid i'r gwas ddychwelyd gyda chanmoliaeth fawr yn dweud na ddylid ei newid mewn unrhyw fodd, yr un mymryn nac atalnod.

Ymddengys mai dyma'r ymagwedd a gawsom gan y Llywodraeth. Edrychodd ar y Mesur gyda thros 140 o gymalau, ac ni chynigiodd yr un gwelliant? Dim ffeuen; ni ddaeth yr un ffeuen gan y Gweinidog. Llyncodd y cyfan yn gyfan. Yr wyf yn ddiolchgar am y metaffor cymysg a ddaeth o'r dde i mi—croen, cyrn a charnau'.

Gadewch inni ddychwelyd at y Gorchymyn yn y Cyfrin Gyngor, gan ei fod yn debyg iawn i ddiwrnod cyntaf cyllideb slic Llafur Newydd. Ymddengys yn syniad clyfar i'r rhai sy'n ei chefnogi; yn wir, drysodd eraill am ychydig. Ar ôl ychydig o ddyddiau, dechreuodd ddatod o dan y chwyddwydr.

Beth yw Gorchymyn yn y Cyfrin Gyngor? Mae naill ai'n gadael feto mewn deddfwrfa arall, neu gyda Gweinidog arall yn y Llywodraeth—nid yn y Llywodraeth hon—neu, i bob diben, mae'n creu pwerau deddfu sylfaenol. Mae'n rhoi ichi system goeth sy'n arbed penarglwyddiaeth ddamcaniaethol Llywodraeth, yn yr ystyr bod yn rhaid i'r cyfan fynd drwy San Steffan, ond mae'n gyfwerth â'r Cydsyniad Brenhinol.

Os mai dyna sut yr ydych yn disgwyl i Orchmynion yn y Cyfrin Gyngor weithredu—y caiff pwerau eu rhoi ar gais mewn unrhyw faes y mae gan y Llywodraeth gyfrifoldeb datganoledig amdano yng Nghymru—dylech fod yn ddigon dewr i ddweud mai pwerau deddfu sylfaenol ydynt.

Dylech fynd at bobl Cymru a gofyn a ydynt yn cymeradwyo ai peidio. Dyma pam inni gyflwyno gwelliant 13. Byddai'n cael gwared â Rhan 3 o'r Mesur, sy'n creu'r dull arbennig hwn—unigryw, hyd y gwelaf, yn y byd Saesneg ei iaith—ac ychwanegu Rhan 4, a fyddai'n creu Senedd ar wedd yr Alban neu Gynulliad ar ffurf Cynulliad Gogledd Iwerddon a allai ddeddfu a dwyn ei Llywodraeth yn gyfrifol yn y broses honno. Yn y modd hwnnw y dylid bod wedi mynd â'r trefniant cyfansoddiadol yn ei flaen a dyna sut y gellid bod wedi cydbwyso'r cyfansoddiad Prydeinig yn well.

Fodd bynnag, byddai wedi arwain at un canlyniad, sef y byddai nifer yr ASau o Gymru—a chyfeiriaf at bwyntiau Gwenda Thomas yn awr—fel nifer yr ASau o'r Alban, wedi eu lleihau i ffigur yn seiliedig ar y boblogaeth. Mae'r sôn am beidio â chael cyfle i roi ein barn ar bolisi macro-economaidd ac amddiffyn yn lol. Byddem yn cael yr un cyfle i fynegi barn â phobl Lloegr a byddai gennym gynifer o gynrychiolwyr â Lloegr y pen o'r boblogaeth. Felly, gadewch inni beidio â rhoi dihangfa i'r Blaid Lafur.

Llafur sydd am gael y system hon; mae am gael ffug bwerau deddfu sylfaenol. Mae gennym bopeth heblaw am Ddeddf Seneddol, ond dyna yw eu swyddogaeth hwy. Ond o dan y system hon eto mae'r Blaid Lafur yn parhau i gael ei gor-gynrychioli yn San Steffan gan y gwyddoch y bydd yr etholiad cyffredinol nesaf yn gystadleuaeth dynnach na'r etholiad diwethaf ac efallai y bydd rhaid ichi greu eich mwyafrif mewn rhannau eraill o'r Deyrnas Unedig. Dyna'ch cymhelliad.

Yr wyf wedi fy siomi'n wirioneddol nad eithriwyd swydd comisiynydd plant, ar wyneb y Mesur, o'r gallu i sefyll mewn etholiad i'r Cynulliad. Credaf fod y swydd yn sefyll ochr yn ochr â'r archwilydd cyffredinol a'r ombwdsmon. Mae iddi'r urddas a'r pwys. Yn olaf, er na ellid ei gyflwyno yn y Mesur hwn gan fod hynny yn ymwneud â Deddf Seneddol arall, credaf mai'r Cynulliad ddylai benodi'r comisiynydd plant ac nid Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru."

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