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Glyn Davies: Securing a better budget for Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I thank the Minister for her very detailed presentation, and for her unfailing willingness to discuss budget issues with me, as the Conservative finance spokesman, and to allow her staff to hold discussions with me.

The Conservative group will abstain in the vote on the Government's final budget today. A Conservative budget would be constructed very differently to a Labour budget.

Indeed, to pick up a point that Lorraine Barrett made, it is highly likely that a Conservative budget would not have the same degree of free provision, which we have often described as an election gimmick.

Therefore, our budget would be different. However, we acknowledge that this final budget is better than the draft budget. On that basis, we are prepared to allow the budget to go through.

I also acknowledge the positive response of the First Minister, and of the formidable and deceptively tough and determined Finance Minister, following the defeat of the draft budget. The Conservative Party was certainly not happy with the draft budget.

The most disappointing aspect of the agreement, which has enabled us to change our position on the budget, is the amount of help to be given to council tax payers, particularly those on low fixed incomes.

We acknowledge that 16,000 pensioners who have gone up one band will have help, but I do not think that goes far enough to assuage the sense of injustice that exists across Wales, particularly among those who are older and on low fixed incomes.

We have made it clear that we do not think that providing free prescriptions is sensible. We think that it has led to more people having to wait for operations. However, we have always thought free swimming was a sensible policy.

We particularly welcome the additional £5 million in the budget to help pensioners with their heating. That is a sensible and welcome improvement. Indeed, it is such a good proposal that Gordon Brown, who must have been listening in on the discussions, has decided to adopt the proposal for England. Yet again, Wales is leading the way.

The pre-budget report provides a context for a discussion of the Government's final budget. I would like to look at one or two issues in that regard. It is clear that the economy is slowing down seriously.

For the second time, the Chancellor admitted a reduction in the growth rates, which fell from 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, and have now fallen to 1.75 per cent. That is the equivalent of a finance director giving two profit warnings in a year.

In those circumstances, the finance director would nearly always have the sack. The Chancellor yesterday looked rather like a ragged, battle-scarred old war-horse, particularly when compared with the sleek, gleaming thoroughbreds that he now faces across the despatch box in the form of David Cameron and George Osborne.

I would like to congratulate David Cameron, not only on his elevation to leader of the party, but on a brilliant performance during Prime Minister's questions today; the Prime Minister was clearly discomforted.

It is obvious that, across Britain, the Conservative Party is back in business big time. There are indeed political Barnett-style consequentials for the Assembly arising from this. It is clear that, after the 2007 election, the Conservative Party will threaten the Labour Party's position as the largest party in this institution.

There are other financial consequentials arising from this. It is reported to be £28 million over a three-year period, with around £14 million for next year. At this stage, we do not know exactly what that figure is—although perhaps the Minister does—but this will become apparent in due course.

I hope that there will be a degree of cross-party discussion about how this additional money will be spent. That is an important development, building on what has happened so far. Bearing in mind the Minister's oft-quoted commitment to committee priorities, I hope that she will at least consider using this money to redress the cuts made to committees' budgets. This has to be a matter for cross-party discussion between the Minister and the finance spokespeople and leaders of the opposition parties."

"Diolchaf i'r Gweinidog am ei chyflwyniad manwl iawn, ac am ei pharodrwydd di-ffael i drafod materion cyllidebol gyda mi, fel llefarydd y Ceidwadwyr ar gyllid, ac am ganiatáu i'w staff gynnal trafodaethau gyda mi.

Bydd grwp y Ceidwadwyr yn ymatal yn y bleidlais ar gyllideb derfynol y Llywodraeth heddiw. Byddai cyllideb Geidwadol wedi'i llunio'n wahanol iawn i gyllideb Lafur. Yn wir, i godi pwynt a wnaeth Lorraine Barrett, mae'n debygol iawn na fyddai gan gyllideb Geidwadol yr un lefel o ddarpariaeth am ddim, sy'n rhywbeth a ddisgrifiwyd gennym yn aml fel gimig etholiadol.

Felly, byddai ein cyllideb ni yn wahanol. Fodd bynnag, cydnabyddwn fod y gyllideb derfynol hon yn well na'r gyllideb ddrafft. Ar y sail honno, yr ydym yn barod i ganiatáu i'r gyllideb gael ei derbyn.

Cydnabyddaf hefyd ymateb cadarnhaol y Prif Weinidog, a'r Gweinidog Cyllid gwydn sy'n dwyllodrus o galed a phenderfynol, ar ôl i'r gyllideb ddrafft gael ei threchu. Yn sicr, nid oedd y Blaid Geidwadol yn fodlon ar y gyllideb ddrafft.

Yr agwedd fwyaf siomedig ar y cytundeb, sydd wedi ein galluogi i newid ein safbwynt ar y gyllideb, yw'r cymorth y bwriedir ei roi i dalwyr y dreth gyngor, yn arbennig y rhai ar incwm sefydlog isel. Cydnabyddwn y caiff 16,000 o bensiynwyr y mae eu heiddo wedi codi un band yn cael cymorth, ond ni chredaf fod hynny'n mynd yn ddigon pell i leddfu'r ymdeimlad o anghyfiawnder sy'n bodoli ledled Cymru, yn arbennig ymhlith y rhai sy'n hyn ac ar incwm sefydlog isel.

Yr ydym wedi egluro nad ydym yn credu bod darparu presgripsiynau am ddim yn ddoeth. Credwn fod mwy o bobl yn gorfod aros am lawdriniaeth yn sgîl hynny. Fodd bynnag, yr ydym wedi bod o'r farn o'r cychwyn bod nofio am ddim yn bolisi doeth.

Croesawn yn arbennig y £5 miliwn ychwanegol yn y gyllideb i helpu pensiynwyr i dalu costau gwresogi eu cartrefi. Croesawn y gwelliant doeth hwnnw. Yn wir, mae'n gynnig mor dda fel bod Gordon Brown, a fu, mae'n rhaid, yn gwrando ar y trafodaethau, wedi penderfynu mabwysiadu'r cynnig ar gyfer Lloegr. Unwaith eto, mae Cymru yn arwain y ffordd.

Mae'r adroddiad rhag-gyllidebol yn rhoi cyd-destun ar gyfer trafodaeth o gyllideb derfynol y Llywodraeth. Hoffwn ystyried un neu ddau o faterion yn y cyd-destun hwnnw. Mae'n amlwg bod yr economi yn arafu'n sylweddol. Am yr eildro, cyfaddefodd y Canghellor fod cyfraddau twf wedi gostwng, o 3.5 y cant i 2.5 y cant, a bellach maent wedi gostwng i 1.75 y cant.

Mae hynny fel pe bai cyfarwyddwr cyllid yn rhoi dau rybudd am elw mewn blwyddyn. O dan yr amgylchiadau hynny, byddai'r cyfarwyddwr cyllid wedi cael ei ddiswyddo bron bob tro. Yr oedd y Canghellor yn edrych yn debyg i hen geffyl rhyfel lluddedig â chreithiau'r brwydrau arno, yn arbennig o gymharu â'r ceffylau llyfn, gloyw a phur y mae bellach yn eu hwynebu ar draws y blwch dogfennau ar ffurf David Cameron a George Osborne.

Hoffwn longyfarch David Cameron, nid yn unig ar ei ddyrchafiad i fod yn arweinydd y blaid, ond ar berfformiad rhagorol yn ystod cwestiynau Prif Weinidog y DU heddiw; yr oedd yn amlwg bod y Prif Weinidog yn teimlo'n anesmwyth.

Mae'n amlwg, ledled Prydain, bod y Blaid Geidwadol yn ôl ar ei thraid eto. Yn wir mae symiau canlyniadol gwleidyddol yn debyg i'r hyn a geir o dan fformiwla Barnett i'r Cynulliad yn deillio o hyn. Mae'n amlwg, ar ôl etholiad 2007, y bydd y Blaid Geidwadol yn peryglu statws y Blaid Lafur fel y blaid fwyaf yn y sefydliad hwn. Mae symiau canlyniadol eraill yn deillio o hyn.

Nodir bod hynny'n £28 miliwn dros gyfnod o dair blynedd, gyda thua £14 miliwn ar gyfer y flwyddyn nesaf. Ar yr adeg hon, ni wyddom yn union beth yw'r ffigur—er efallai fod y Gweinidog yn ei wybod—ond bydd hyn yn dod i'r amlwg maes o law. Gobeithiaf y bydd rhywfaint o drafodaeth drawsbleidiol ynghylch sut y caiff yr arian ychwanegol hwn ei wario.

Mae hynny'n ddatblygiad pwysig, gan adeiladu ar yr hyn sydd wedi digwydd hyd yma. O gofio ymrwymiad y Gweinidog, a ddyfynnir yn aml, i flaenoriaethau pwyllgor, gobeithiaf y bydd o leiaf yn ystyried defnyddio'r arian hwn i unioni'r toriadau sydd wedi'u gwneud i gyllidebau'r pwyllgorau. Mater i'w drafod yw hwn rhwng y Gweinidog a llefarwyr cyllid ac arweinwyr y gwrthbleidiau."

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