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Bourne: Labour's compromise plan for Welsh devolution

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"There are parts of the Government of Wales Bill that the Welsh Conservatives support. Allow me to make that clear at the outset. The separation of the legislature and Executive of the National Assembly is certainly something for which we have long argued, as have all Assembly Members.

There are, therefore, parts of the legislation that we are happy to support. Indeed, there are carry-over provisions from the current Government of Wales Act 1998 which, as you would expect, we are also able to support.

However, we disagree with the Labour Party on two fundamental points, and I will concentrate on those. The legislation has been cobbled together to hide the cracks and divisions that exist in the Labour Party, and it has not been driven by the interests of Wales.

When the Richard commission first published its report, I recall, as I am sure many Members will, that the First Minister endorsed and accepted it wholeheartedly—he was proud of his nation, and this was something with which he was prepared to run. Then something changed—what changed, clearly, was that it was conveyed to him that many—probably all—Labour MPs at Westminster did not like it.

That is what lies behind the Order in Council procedure—it has nothing to do with serving the ends of the people of Wales; it does no such thing. We ask for a referendum on the issue for this reason: it could mean a very significant transfer of power. On the other hand, it might not—listen to Peter Hain; he says different things to different audiences on this issue.

Peter Hain is the great illusionist on this issue—he says to some audiences that it is a massive step forward for the National Assembly, and that it will give it strong legislative powers. However, when he spoke to Labour MPs last week, he said that it is not a major constitutional shift, and that Parliament will still be in charge of the proposals in the Bill, and merely adapt the current settlement.

Both viewpoints could be true, but it could be a massive change, and that is why we are asking for a referendum.

There are divisions within the Conservative Party, there is no question about that, but that is one reason why we need a referendum. There are divisions within the Labour Party—look at your own backbench Labour MPs.

Two of them, one of whom was Madeleine Moon, voted for a clause stating that abolition should be offered. There are divisions in all parties and that is one reason why the matter should be put to the people of Wales to decide. There are within your voters, let it be said.

Coming back to the issue of Labour MPs, Alan Williams, the Father of the House, has called these legislative proposals 'creeping devolution'. He believes that the Bill is a kind of salami slicing provision—you could have a series of Orders in Council that chipped away one by one at the powers of the Houses of Parliament, giving them to the Assembly. That is true, which is why we need a referendum. There should be a clear choice, and I do not believe in this intermediate stage.

I believe that we should have a straightforward choice for the people of Wales on legislative powers or not, with the referendum powers as set out very fairly in Schedule 6 of the Government of Wales Act 1998, if a referendum is ever triggered.

A referendum can only be triggered—the First Minister skated over this thin ice, and who can blame him—if it is supported by 40 Assembly Members, which is two-thirds of all Assembly Members, and not just two-thirds of those voting. It is a pretty unlikely scenario if Labour never wants it, even if it is out of Government, which I sincerely believe it will be.

I am glad that you follow proceedings in the Conservative Party so closely, and that you welcome what is happening. I certainly do. It is very interesting to look at recent polls—I can understand why some Labour Members look a little rattled and concerned.

I believe that there should be a referendum on the Assembly measures. It is a difficult question to put forward, but that is because it is a complex procedure. I was perhaps the only one who was listening to the First Minister earlier—I looked around and not many people were listening. It is a very complex procedure, and, clearly, he has a different view about how it operates from the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat group, for example. It is very abstruse and difficult, and that it is because it has been put there as glue to try to hold the Labour Party together.

The second thing that has been put there as glue in an attempt to hold the Labour Party together are the electoral arrangements. I could take the Labour Party seriously about believing that there is a great issue about first-past-the-post versus regional Members were it not for three individuals.

Peter Peacock, who was third in Moray in the Scottish Parliament elections, fiercely defends his right to be a regional list Member in the Highlands and Islands, and says that he does at least as much work as constituency Members. Why is the situation different in Scotland? It is not according to Maureen MacMillan, the Labour regional list Member for the Highlands and Islands, who was third in Ross, Skye and Inverness West.

I will now close, Presiding Officer. We are principally against it for those two reasons."

"Mae Ceidwadwyr Cymru'n cefnogi rhannau o Fesur Llywodraeth Cymru. A gaf ddatgan hynny'n groyw ar y dechrau. Yn wir yr ydym wedi dadlau ers tro dros wahanu adain ddeddfwriaethol a Gweithrediaeth y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol oddi wrth ei gilydd, fel y mae pob un o Aelodau'r Cynulliad wedi ei wneud.

Felly, y mae rhannau o'r ddeddfwriaeth yr ydym yn falch o'u cefnogi. Yn wir, mae darpariaethau sy'n weddill o Ddeddf gyfredol Llywodraeth Cymru 1998 y gallwn eu cefnogi hefyd, fel y byddech yn ei ddisgwyl.

Fodd bynnag, anghytunwn â'r Blaid Lafur ynghylch dau bwynt sylfaenol, a byddaf yn canolbwyntio ar y rheiny. Mae'r ddeddfwriaeth wedi ei hel ynghyd i gelu craciau a rhaniadau'r Blaid Lafur, ac nid buddiannau Cymru sydd wedi ei hysgogi.

Pan gyhoeddodd comisiwn Richard ei adroddiad gyntaf, cofiaf, fel y cofia llawer o'r Aelodau, mae'n siwr, i'r Prif Weinidog ei ategu a'i dderbyn yn frwd—yr oedd yn falch o'i genedl, ac yr oedd hyn yn rhywbeth yr oedd yn barod i redeg ag ef. Yna newidiodd rhywbeth—yr hyn a newidiodd, yn amlwg, oedd y dywedwyd wrtho fod llawer—pob un, mae'n debyg—o ASau Llafur yn San Steffan yn erbyn yr adroddiad.

Dyna sydd y tu cefn i'r drefn Gorchmynion yn y Cyfrin Gyngor—nid oes a wnelo ddim â gwasanaethu anghenion pobl Cymru; nid yw'n gwneud y fath beth. Gofynnwn am refferendwm ar y pwnc hwn am y rheswm hwn: gallai olygu trosglwyddiad grym arwyddocaol iawn. Ar y llaw arall, gallai beidio—gwrandewch ar Peter Hain; dywed ef bethau gwahanol wrth wahanol gynulleidfaoedd ar y mater hwn. Peter Hain yw'r lledrithiwr mawr ar y pwnc hwn—dywed wrth rai cynulleidfaoedd ei fod yn gam enfawr ymlaen i'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol, y rhydd bwerau deddfu cryf iddo.

Fodd bynnag, pan siaradodd ag ASau Llafur yr wythnos ddiwethaf, dywedodd nad yw'n symudiad cyfansoddiadol mawr, ac mai'r Senedd fydd yn gyfrifol am y cynigion yn y Mesur o hyd, ac mai dim ond addasu'r cytundeb presennol a wneir.

Gallai'r ddau safbwynt fod yn wir, ond gallai fod yn newid enfawr, a dyna pam yr ydym yn gofyn am refferendwm.

Y mae rhaniadau o fewn y Blaid Geidwadol, nid oes dwywaith am hynny, ond dyna un rheswm pam y mae arnom angen refferendwm. Mae rhaniadau o fewn y Blaid Lafur—edrychwch ar eich ASau Llafur chi ar y meinciau cefn.

Pleidleisiodd dau ohonynt, Madeleine Moon yn un, dros gymal yn dweud y dylid cynnig dewis i ddiddymu. Mae rhaniadau ym mhob plaid a dyna un rheswm pam y dylid rhoi'r mater ger bron pobl Cymru i'w benderfynu. Y mae rhai ymhlith eich pleidleiswyr chi, rhaid ei ddweud.

A dychwelyd at fater ASau Llafur, mae Alan Williams, Tad y Ty, wedi galw'r cynigion deddfwriaethol hyn yn 'ddatganoli slei-bach'. Cred ef fod y Mesur yn rhyw fath o ddarpariaeth tafellu salami—gallech gael cyfres o Orchmynion yn y Cyfrin Gyngor a fyddai'n dyfal doncio ar bwerau'r Senedd fesul un, a'u rhoi i'r Cynulliad. Mae hynny'n wir, a dyna pam mae angen refferendwm. Dylai fod dewis clir, ac nid wyf yn credu yn y cam canolraddol hwn.

Credaf y dylem gael dewis syml i bobl Cymru ynghylch cael hawliau deddfu ai peidio, gyda phwerau'r refferendwm fel y maent wedi'u hamlinellu'n deg iawn yn Atodlen 6 i Ddeddf Llywodraeth Cymru 1998, os sbardunir refferendwm fyth.

Ni all refferendwm ond cael ei sbarduno—sglefriodd y Prif Weinidog dros y rhew tenau hwn, a phwy all ei feio—os y'i cefnogir gan 40 o Aelodau'r Cynulliad, sef dau draean o holl Aelodau'r Cynulliad, ac nid dim ond dau draean o'r rhai sydd yn pleidleisio. Mae'n senario eithaf annhebygol os na fydd Llafur yn ei ddymuno, hyd yn oed os bydd allan o Lywodraeth, fel y bydd yn fy nhyb diffuant i.

Yr wyf yn falch eich bod yn dilyn materion yn y Blaid Geidwadol mor agos, a'ch bod yn croesawu'r hyn sydd yn digwydd. Fe'i croesawaf finnau'n sicr. Mae'n ddiddorol iawn edrych ar arolygon barn diweddar—gallaf ddeall pam mae golwg ychydig yn gynhyrfus a phryderus ar rai Aelodau Llafur.

Credaf y dylid cael refferendwm ar fesurau'r Cynulliad. Mae'n gwestiwn anodd i'w gyflwyno, ond dim ond am ei bod yn weithdrefn gymhleth. Efallai mai fi oedd yr unig un a oedd yn gwrando ar y Prif Weinidog yn gynharach—edrychais o gwmpas ac nid oedd llawer o bobl yn gwrando.

Mae'n weithdrefn gymhleth iawn, ac, wrth reswm, mae ei farn ef am y ffordd y mae'n gweithredu yn wahanol i farn arweinydd grwp Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru, er enghraifft. Mae'n astrus ac anodd iawn, a hynny oherwydd iddi gael ei gosod yno fel glud i geisio dal y Blaid Lafur at ei gilydd.

Yr ail beth a roddwyd yno fel glud mewn ymgais i ddal y Blaid Lafur at ei gilydd yw'r trefniadau etholiadol. Gallwn gymryd y Blaid Lafur o ddifrif ynglyn â chredu bod cwestiwn mawr ynghylch Aelodau cyntaf heibio'r postyn ac Aelodau rhanbarthol, oni bai am dri unigolyn. Mae Peter Peacock, a ddaeth yn drydydd ym Moray yn etholiadau Senedd yr Alban, yn amddiffyn yn daer ei hawl i fod yn Aelod rhestr ranbarthol yn yr Ucheldiroedd a'r Ynysoedd, gan ddweud ei fod yn gwneud cymaint o waith o leiaf ag Aelodau etholaethau.

Pam mae'r sefyllfa'n wahanol yn yr Alban? Nid ydyw, yn ôl Maureen MacMillan, Aelod Llafur y rhestr ranbarthol dros yr Ucheldiroedd a'r Ynysoedd, a ddaeth yn drydydd yn Ross, Skye a Gorllewin Inverness.

Gorffennaf yn awr, Lywydd. Yr ydym yn ei wrthwynebu'n bennaf am y ddau reswm hynny."

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