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Melding: Labour's 'partisan' plans for Welsh devolution

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"We have the right to ask whether the Government of Wales Bill is, in essence, a partisan measure. I think that we have to conclude that it is. It is not a piece of legislation based on the work of an independent commission, nor has it emerged after comprehensive all-party talks. Therefore, it is a constitutional measure that has only the full endorsement and support of the Labour Party, or so we are told.

Although it is essentially partisan, that is not to say that it is root-and-branch bad. It is not. There are many things in it that I can enthusiastically support, such as the proposals for more framework legislation, the greater use of secondary powers, more joint working between committees here and those in the House of Commons, and the separation of the legislative and Executive arms of the Assembly. These are all profound and welcome constitutional developments.

However, there are problems in other areas of the Bill. Much has been said about the Orders in Council measure. I have said previously that it is a bit like going from Cardiff to Newport via Wrexham.

It seems enormously convoluted, and it is an item that could perhaps benefit from Occam's razor, by cutting to the core and asking whether or not we should be acting more as a primary legislative body. There is a whiff of the seventeenth century about Orders in Council. It does not seem to be a regular, transparent parliamentary process.

It could elevate the Secretary of State into some sort of governor general, acting out a veto such as that which Poyning had over the Irish parliament in the Tudor settlement. It is full of the inability to cross logical constitutional bridges.

Often, it evades the essential questions that we face. However, it could work. I am completely neutral at the moment. I do not know whether it will work in practice, but I do not have enough evidence to say that it cannot work. However, if it does work, these powers will, in effect, be primary legislative powers.

A lot is made of the fact—and the First Minister made this point—that this is not a fundamental development, because Parliament will remain sovereign. I remind the First Minister that the Westminster Parliament remains sovereign over all measures enacted by the Scottish Parliament. This, if it works, is really just a constitutional safeguard, to be used only in times of national emergency. It is not a common procedure. It does define the relationship that we would have with Westminster.

That is a distinction without a difference, and I will tell you why: Parliament would have to say that the Assembly, and its Executive, are not competent to ask for a legislative measure. If that measure were not of a trivial nature, that would immediately create a constitutional crisis. That is what we would be letting ourselves in for.

All this because we are not brave enough to ask the people of Wales in a referendum whether they would endorse primary powers. When the Secretary of State was here he said that the reason that they did not wish to put that question now was because they would lose it. Presumably, that is because of the performance of the Welsh Assembly Government here—unless other arguments are presented.

In the minute that I have left, I will talk about voting arrangements. The Labour Party's response seems to be, to summarise, 'if it is not broken, break it'. International practice—everywhere apart from the Ukraine, where, now, in fact it is also the practice, because they did not get away with this nobbling procedure—is that, if you have the additional member system, you allow members seeking dual mandates; if they are successful in both, they take one.

If this sort of system had been miserably pursued in Germany, Chancellor Kohl would have been kicked out in the 1970s and would never have become the leader of that country. You should follow international practice, and if you want to end the additional member system, either return to a first-past-the-post system everywhere or implement a single transferable vote system. That is the logical position. This is a partisan measure.

That is why this measure has such a cutting partisan edge. That is why Rhodri Morgan is tarnishing the inheritance that he received somewhat indirectly from Ron Davies. It is lessening the National Assembly, and it is weakening its authority and ability to speak for all the people of Wales."

"Mae gennym hawl i ofyn a yw Mesur Llywodraeth Cymru, yn ei hanfod, yn fesur pleidiol. Credaf fod rhaid inni ddod i'r casgliad ei fod yn fesur pleidiol. Nid yw'n ddarn o ddeddfwriaeth sy'n seiliedig ar waith comisiwn annibynnol, ac nid yw ychwaith wedi deillio o drafodaethau hollbleidiol cynhwysfawr. Mae felly'n fesur cyfansoddiadol sydd â chymeradwyaeth a chefnogaeth lawn y Blaid Lafur yn unig, neu felly a ddywedir wrthym.

Er ei fod yn bleidiol yn ei hanfod, nid yw hynny'n golygu ei fod yn ddrwg i gyd. Ni ellir dweud hynny amdano. Mae llawer o bethau ynddo yr wyf yn eu cefnogi'n frwd, megis y cynigion am fwy o ddeddfwriaeth fframwaith, mwy o ddefnydd o bwerau i greu is-ddeddfwriaeth, mwy o gydweithio rhwng pwyllgorau yma a'r rhai yn Nhy'r Cyffredin, a gwahanu canghennau deddfwriaethol a Gweithredol y Cynulliad. Mae'r rhain i gyd yn ddatblygiadau cyfansoddiadol dwfn ac yn rhai i'w croesawu.

Fodd bynnag, mae problemau gydag agweddau eraill o'r Mesur. Mae llawer wedi ei ddweud am y mesur Gorchmynion yn y Cyfrin Gyngor. Yr wyf wedi dweud eisoes fod hyn fel mynd o Gaerdydd i Gasnewydd trwy Wrecsam.

Mae'n ymddangos yn hirwyntog tu hwnt, ac mae'n eitem a allai elwa ar rasel Occam, trwy dorri i'r byw a gofyn a ddylem fod yn gweithredu fwy fel corff deddfwriaethol sylfaenol ai peidio. Mae rhywfaint o elfennau sy'n ein hatgoffa o'r ail ganrif ar bymtheg ynglyn â Gorchmynion yn y Cyfrin Gyngor.

Nid yw'n ymddangos fel proses seneddol arferol, dryloyw. Gallai ddyrchafu'r Ysgrifennydd Gwladol i fod yn rhyw fath o lywodraethwr cyffredinol, sy'n defnyddio feto fel yr un a oedd gan Poyning dros senedd Iwerddon yn ystod setliad y Tuduriaid. Mae'n llawn anallu i groesi pontydd cyfansoddiadol rhesymegol.

Yn aml, mae'n osgoi'r cwestiynau hanfodol a wynebwn. Fodd bynnag, gallai weithio. Yr wyf yn hollol niwtral ar hyn o bryd. Ni wn a wnaiff weithio yn ymarferol, ond nid oes gennyf ddigon o dystiolaeth i ddweud na all weithio. Fodd bynnag, os gwnaiff weithio, pwerau deddfu sylfaenol fydd y rhain, mewn effaith.

Gwneir llawer o'r ffaith—a gwnaeth y Prif Weinidog y pwynt hwn—nad yw hwn yn ddatblygiad sylfaenol, gan y bydd y Senedd yn dal yn sofran. Atgoffaf y Prif Weinidog fod Senedd San Steffan yn parhau'n sofran dros bob mesur a weithredir gan Senedd yr Alban. Dim ond mesur diogelu cyfansoddiadol yw hwn, os gweithia, i'w ddefnyddio dim ond mewn adegau o argyfwng cenedlaethol. Nid yw'n drefn gyffredin. Y mae'n diffinio'r berthynas a fyddai rhyngom a San Steffan.

Gwahaniaethiad heb wahaniaeth yw hwnnw, ac fe ddywedaf wrthych pam. Byddai'n rhaid i'r Senedd ddweud nad yw'r Cynulliad, a'i Weithrediaeth, yn gymwys i ofyn am fesur deddfwriaethol. Os nad mesur pitw fai hwnnw, byddai hynny'n creu argyfwng cyfansoddiadol yn syth.

Dyna beth y byddem yn ein cael ein hunain i mewn iddo. Hyn i gyd am nad ydym yn ddigon dewr i ofyn i bobl Cymru mewn refferendwm a fyddent yn cefnogi pwerau sylfaenol. Pan oedd yr Ysgrifennydd Gwladol yma dywedodd mai'r rheswm nad oeddent yn dymuno rhoi'r cwestiwn hwnnw'n awr oedd oherwydd y byddent yn ei golli. Yn ôl pob tebyg, perfformiad Llywodraeth y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol yma sydd i gyfrif am hynny—oni chyflwynir dadleuon eraill.

Yn y munud sydd gennyf ar ôl, siaradaf am drefniadau pleidleisio. Mae'n ymddangos mai ymateb y Blaid Lafur, yn gryno, yw, 'os nad yw wedi torri, torrer ef'. Yr arfer rhyngwladol—ym mhobman ar wahân i'r Wcráin, lle bellach y mae'n arfer hefyd, am iddynt gael eu dal yn y drefn lwgr hon—yw, os oes gennych y system aelodau ychwanegol, eich bod yn caniatáu aelodau sy'n ceisio mandad deuol; os ydynt yn llwyddiannus yn y ddau, cymerant un. Pe bai'r math hwn o system wedi'i dilyn yn druenus yn yr Almaen, buasai'r Canghellor Kohl wedi cael ei gicio allan yn y 1970au ac ni fuasai byth wedi dod yn arweinydd y wlad honno.

Dylech ddilyn yr arfer rhyngwladol, ac os oes arnoch eisiau rhoi diwedd ar y system aelodau ychwanegol, naill ai ewch yn ôl at system y cyntaf heibio'r postyn ym mhobman neu gweithredwch system un bleidlais drosglwyddadwy. Dyna'r sefyllfa resymegol. Mesur pleidgar yw hwn.

Dyna pam mae awch pleidgar mor finiog i'r mesur hwn. Dyna pam y mae Rhodri Morgan yn llychwino'r etifeddiaeth a dderbyniodd yn anuniongyrchol braidd oddi wrth Ron Davies. Mae'n lleihau'r Cynulliad Cenedlaethol, ac yn gwanhau ei awdurdod a'i allu i siarad dros holl bobl Cymru."

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