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Bourne: Concern over Welsh quango wind-up plans

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I thank the First Minister for his statement. I have some questions regarding the tenor and the language of the statement. It seems to me that it is contentious in parts.

When you say that part of the reason for bringing these ASPBs in-house is to place front-line delivery at the heart of the Welsh Assembly Government, many of us believe that the WDA was strong on front-line delivery, as were many of the other ASPBs.

Therefore, I do not see that as a reason in itself for this agenda. While we in the Welsh Conservative Party are not against shrinking the quango state—we can see a strong case for streamlining—what seems to be happening is that the quangos are simply being brought in-house, with the same number of civil servants; there will not be an overall shrinking of the Government machine.

In relation to the eulogy that the First Minister seemed to be giving to the private-sector ethos of risk taking, it seemed to me highly contentious to suggest that it is more likely that these people will be rewarded for taking risks as civil servants than they would at arm's length, as part of the WDA, the WTB or whatever the body may be. While I accept that there are many great strengths to the civil service, risk taking can scarcely be said to be one of them.

In relation to the language, you spoke about the new arrangements meaning that they will need to reflect new realities and not past achievements. This comes particularly within the context of the brand names of the WDA and WTB.

I question why that is the case, and why it means that two brands that are as strong and as well-recognised internationally must be thrown out at the same time as the reorganisation proceeds. Given their high reputation, particularly overseas, I cannot see the reason for it.

I share that view with Peter Hain, and share the concern about thinking long and hard about bringing it in-house, because I do not see that it would have the advantages that the First Minister paints in this picture. I share many of the private sector's concerns in relation to the WDA.

On the Welsh Language Board, the leader of Plaid Cymru has already touched on the aspect of the motion that was carried last week. We must not lose sight of that, unless we are to return with a new motion that recognises the strength of the Assembly's decision last week.

It is not business as usual—there is a change. You did not say that it was business as usual in that context, to be fair, but you said that it was business as usual in terms of your party's support for the Welsh language.

That may well be the case, and it will also be the case with my party. If you are to bring the Welsh Language Board in-house, there is a great danger that it will—perhaps not immediately—politicise the issue.

At the moment, the arm's-length Welsh Language Board can act as a champion for the language, and it has been largely successful in depoliticising the language as an issue.

There has not been the angst and the difficulties that once existed in relation to the Welsh language, and I caution the First Minister that some aspects of this are being put at risk by bringing the Welsh Language Board in-house.

The First Minister will also be aware of our concerns about bringing the Arts Council of Wales in-house, with the prospect of the danger of politicisation of the arts and of disturbing something that works rather well and successfully at the moment.

My concern does not regard streamlining—that is to be welcomed if it is to be achieved, although I am not sure to what degree it will be achieved. It seems that we will end up with a far more centralised and far more controlled system that is potentially far less open, far less accountable and far less devolved."

"Diolchaf i'r Prif Weinidog am ei ddatganiad. Mae gennyf rai cwestiynau ynghylch cywair ac ieithwedd y datganiad. Ymddengys i mi ei fod yn gynhennus mewn mannau. Pan ddywedwch mai rhan o'r rheswm dros uno'r CCNC hyn â'r Cynulliad yw er mwyn rhoi gwasanaethau rheng flaen wrth wraidd Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru, mae llawer ohonom yn credu bod y WDA, yn ogystal llawer o CCNCau eraill, yn gryf o ran darparu gwasanaeth rheng flaen.

Felly, ni welaf fod hynny'n rheswm ynddo'i hun dros yr agenda hon. Er nad ydym ni ym Mhlaid Geidwadol Cymru yn gwrthwynebu lleihau gwladwriaeth y cwangos—gallwn weld achos cryf dros feinhau—ymddengys mai'r hyn sy'n digwydd yw bod y cwangos ond yn cael eu huno gyda'r cynulliad, gan gadw'r un nifer o weision sifil; ni fydd peiriant y Llywodraeth yn lleihau yn gyffredinol.

O ran y moliant yr ymddengys fod y Prif Weinidog yn ei ganu i ethos y sector preifat o gymryd risgiau, yn fy marn i yr oedd yn hynod gynhennus awgrymu ei bod yn fwy tebygol y caiff y bobl hyn eu gwobrwyo am gymryd risgiau fel gweision sifil nag y byddent pe baent hyd braich, fel rhan o'r WDA, y Bwrdd Croeso neu ba bynnag gorff arall. Er fy mod yn derbyn bod gan y gwasanaeth sifil lawer o gryfderau, prin y gellir dweud bod cymryd risg yn un ohonynt.

O ran yr iaith, bu ichi siarad am y trefniadau newydd yn yr ystyr y bydd yn rhaid iddynt adlewyrchu'r realiti newydd ac nid llwyddiannau'r gorffennol. Daw hyn yn arbennig yng nghyd-destun enwau brand y WDA a Bwrdd Croeso Cymru.

Yr wyf yn cwestiynu'r achos dros hynny a pham y mae'n golygu bod yn rhaid cael gwared ar ddau frand sydd mor gryf ac sydd mor adnabyddus yn rhyngwladol ar yr un pryd wrth i'r ad-drefnu fynd rhagddo. O gofio'u henwau da, yn enwedig dramor, ni allaf weld y rheswm dros wneud hynny.

Rhannaf y farn honno â Peter Hain, gan rannu'r pryder ynghylch ystyried yn ddwys a ddylid dod â hwy o dan adain y Cynulliad, oherwydd nid wyf o'r farn bod iddo'r manteision a amlinellir gan y Prif Weinidog yn y darlun hwn. Rhannaf lawer o bryderon y sector preifat parthed y WDA.

O ran Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg, mae arweinydd Plaid Cymru eisoes wedi crybwyll yr agwedd honno ar y cynnig a dderbyniwyd yr wythnos diwethaf. Rhaid inni beidio ag anwybyddu hynny oni ddychwelwn â chynnig newydd sy'n cydnabod cryfder penderfyniad y Cynulliad yr wythnos diwethaf.

Nid yw'n fater o bethau'n parhau yn ôl yr arfer—mae newid wedi digwydd. A bod yn deg, ni ddywedasoch fod pethau'n parhau yn ôl yr arfer yn y cyd-destun hwnnw ond dywedasoch fod pethau'n parhau yn ôl yr arfer o ran cefnogaeth eich plaid chi i'r iaith Gymraeg. Efallai fod hynny'n wir, a bydd yn wir yn fy mhlaid i hefyd.

Drwy ddod â Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg o dan adain y Cynulliad, mae perygl mawr y bydd hyn—efallai nad ar unwaith—yn gwleidyddoli'r mater. Ar hyn o bryd, gall Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg, sy'n sefydliad hyd braich, weithredu fel hyrwyddwr dros yr iaith a bu'n llwyddiannus wrth ddadwleidyddoli'r iaith fel mater ar y cyfan.

Ni welwyd yr ing a'r anawsterau a fu yng nghyd-destun yr iaith Gymraeg ar un adeg a rhybuddiaf y Prif Weinidog fod rhai agweddau ar y mater hwn mewn perygl yn sgîl dod â Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg o dan adain y Cynulliad.

Bydd y Prif Weinidog hefyd yn ymwybodol o'n pryderon ynghylch dod â Chyngor Celfyddydau Cymruo dan adain y Cynulliad, gyda'r perygl y caiff y celfyddydau eu gwleidyddoli ac yr amherir ar rywbeth sy'n gweithio'n dda iawn ac yn llwyddiannus ar hyn o bryd.

Nid oes a wnelo fy mhryder â symleiddio - rhaid croesawu hynny os caiff ei gyflawni, er nad wyf yn siwr i ba raddau y cyflawnir hynny. Ymddengys y cawn system lawer mwy canoledig sydd wedi'i rheoli fwyfwy a fydd, o bosibl, lawer llai agored, llawer llai atebol a llawer llai datganoledig."

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