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Morgan: Labour ditches key manifesto pledge

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I congratulate the Minister for Health and Social Services. I did not realise that the Olympic Games had come early and that we had set a new sport: rushing through a ministerial statement as quickly as possible. You seem to have achieved a gold medal in that this afternoon.

I have never heard a Minister rush through a Cabinet statement with such nerves, panic and embarrassment. You have only to look at the faces of your colleagues behind you to see the embarrassment that they feel about your dreadful performance and that of your colleagues on the front bench.

You and your colleagues made a clear and direct commitment to the people of Wales in your 2003 manifesto.

'In the next Welsh Assembly term Labour will…Scrap homecare charges for disabled people.'

That is a clear, unequivocal, and pretty simple and straightforward commitment. However, in response to Helen Mary Jones, and some of the heckling from behind you, you said that, at the time, the party was not sure whether these promises could be achieved, and yet you decided to put that as a clear commitment in Welsh Labour's manifesto.

I want to ask first about the process since this became apparent. Many months ago, my colleague, David Melding, asked you and your predecessor about this issue.

The response was that the Government was having difficulty defining the term 'disabled'. That was your reason for kicking this into the long grass. Can you confirm whether you have yet been able to define the term 'disabled'? When were you made aware of the financial cost of this project, and can you confirm to the Assembly that the only reason at the time for kicking this into the long grass was because you could not define the term 'disabled' and not because you had serious reservations about whether you could afford this very ambitious commitment?

I also ask you to apologise, given that you have not done so. Helen Mary Jones also asked you to apologise for not being able to fulfil this manifesto commitment.

I think that the previous Minister for health, Jane Hutt, should also apologise, along with the First Minister. You were not the Minister for health at the time, so we cannot blame you entirely for this, but you, or someone in your Government, should apologise for not being able to live up to this commitment. You put this commitment in your manifesto to convince the people of Wales to re-elect the Labour Assembly Government.

On that basis, you should have at least a degree of dignity as a Government Minister and you, collectively as a Government, should apologise for not being able to fulfil this commitment.

I do not doubt that there is extra support in this statement, and I will be keen to see how this is implemented, but it is no real comfort to the people of Wales who were looking forward to free homecare for disabled individuals.

Those people who felt that the Labour Party was on their side will see this as a sop. On the first page of your statement, Minister, you said,

'it will keep faith with that commitment'.

Keeping faith with a commitment is honouring a commitment and seeing it through. That is what you do if you make a manifesto promise.

You have not honoured the commitment that you have made. Therefore, I fail to understand—though perhaps you can explain this—why you feel that this announcement keeps faith with that commitment.

Finally, I put it to you that, in 1999, your party made a series of manifesto commitments on health, many of which you failed to realise or keep.

In 2003, you made more commitments and manifesto pledges on health, one of which you admit you are failing to meet now. How on earth can the people of Wales have any confidence in your Government and your party in whatever you promise in the run-up to next year's election?"

"Hoffwn longyfarch y Gweinidog dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol. Nid oeddwn yn sylweddoli bod y Gemau Olympaidd wedi cyrraedd yn gynnar a'n bod wedi dyfeisio math newydd o chwaraeon: brysio drwy ddatganiad gweinidogol cyn gynted â phosibl.

Ymddengys eich bod wedi ennill medal aur yn hynny y prynhawn yma. Nid wyf erioed wedi clywed Gweinidog yn rhuthro drwy ddatganiad Cabinet mewn ffordd mor nerfus, yn llawn panig ac embaras. Edrychwch ar wynebau eich cyd-Aelodau ac fe welwch yr embaras a deimlant am eich perfformiad difrifol chi a'ch cyd-Aelodau ar y fainc flaen. Gwnaethoch chi a'ch cyd-Aelodau ymrwymiad clir ac uniongyrchol i bobl Cymru yn eich maniffesto yn 2003.

'Yn ystod tymor nesaf y Cynulliad bydd Llafur...Yn dileu taliadau gofal cartref i bobl anabl.'

Mae'n ymrwymiad clir, pendant, eithaf syml ac uniongyrchol. Fodd bynnag, mewn ymateb i Helen Mary Jones, a'r heclo y tu ôl ichi, bu ichi ddweud, bryd hynny, nad oedd y blaid yn siwr pa un a oedd yn bosibl gwireddu'r addewidion hyn, ac eto bu ichi benderfynu datgan hynny fel ymrwymiad clir ym maniffesto Llafur Cymru.

Yn gyntaf, yr wyf am ofyn am y broses ers i hyn ddod i'r amlwg. Fisoedd yn ôl, gofynnodd fy nghyd-Aelod, David Melding, ichi a'ch rhagflaenydd am y mater hwn.

Yr ymateb oedd bod y Llywodraeth yn cael anhawster wrth ddiffinio'r term 'anabl'. Dyna oedd eich rheswm dros anwybyddu'r mater hwn. A allwch gadarnhau pa un a ydych wedi llwyddo i ddiffinio'r term 'anabl' eto?

Pryd y daethoch yn ymwybodol o gost ariannol y prosiect hwn, ac a allwch gadarnhau i'r Cynulliad mai'r unig reswm ar y pryd dros anwybyddu'r mater hwn oedd y ffaith na allech ddiffinio'r term 'anabl' ac nid am fod gennych amheuon cryf o ran pa un a allech fforddio'r ymrwymiad uchelgeisiol iawn hwn?

Gofynnaf ichi ymddiheuro hefyd, o ystyried nad ydych wedi gwneud hynny. Gofynnodd Helen Mary Jones ichi ymddiheuro hefyd am fethu â chyflawni'r ymrwymiad maniffesto hwn.

Credaf y dylai'r cyn-Weinidog dros iechyd, Jane Hutt, ymddiheuro hefyd, ynghyd â'r Prif Weinidog. Nid chi oedd y Gweinidog dros iechyd ar y pryd, felly ni allwn eich beio'n llwyr am hyn, ond dylech chi, neu rywun yn eich Llywodraeth, ymddiheuro am fethu â chyflawni'r ymrwymiad hwn.

Rhoesoch yr ymrwymiad hwn yn eich maniffesto er mwyn darbwyllo pobl Cymru i ail-ethol Llywodraeth Lafur y Cynulliad. Ar y sail honno, dylech o leiaf ddangos rhywfaint o urddas fel un o Weinidogion y Llywodraeth a dylech chi, fel Llywodraeth gyfan, ymddiheuro am fethu â chyflawni'r ymrwymiad hwn.

Nid amheuaf fod cymorth ychwanegol yn y datganiad hwn, a byddaf yn awyddus i weld sut y caiff ei roi ar waith, ond nid yw'n gysur gwirioneddol i bobl Cymru a oedd yn edrych ymlaen at ofal cartref am ddim i unigolion anabl. Bydd y bobl hynny a oedd o'r farn fod y Blaid Lafur ar eu hochr hwy yn gweld hyn fel llwgrwobr. Ar dudalen gyntaf eich datganiad, Weinidog, dywedoch,

bydd yn unol ag ysbryd yr ymrwymiad hwnnw.

Mae gweithredu yn unol ag ysbryd ymrwymiad yn golygu parchu ymrwymiad a'i gyflawni. Dyna a wnewch os gwnewch addewid maniffesto. Nid ydych wedi parchu'r ymrwymiad a wnaethoch.

Felly, nid wyf yn deall—er efallai y gallech esbonio hyn—pam yr ydych o'r farn bod y cyhoeddiad hwn yn unol â'r ymrwymiad hwnnw.

Yn olaf, hoffwn nodi, yn 1999, gwnaeth eich plaid gyfres o ymrwymiadau maniffesto ar iechyd, na lwyddwyd i wireddu na chadw sawl un ohonynt.

Yn 2003, gwnaethoch ragor o ymrwymiadau ac addewidion maniffesto ar iechyd, yr ydych yn cyfaddef eich bod yn methu â gwireddu un ohonynt yn awr. Sut ar wyneb daear y gall pobl Cymru ddangos hyder yn eich Llywodraeth a'ch plaid o ran yr hyn y byddwch yn ei addo yn ystod y cyfnod cyn yr etholiad y flwyddyn nesaf?"

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