Speeches recovered from the Conservative party’s online archive More…

Cairns: Government chaos over Welsh quango wind-up

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I am not sure whether five minutes will be enough to cover all of the issues, but you will be pleased to hear that I have highlighted three clear themes arising from the amendments to make my comments more concise.

The three clear themes are: the ad hoc approach that the Assembly Government has taken in this respect; the need to safeguard scrutiny; and our need to focus on delivery.

On the first theme, we all know that this is an ill-thought-out policy. The receivers of the service have clearly highlighted the lack of strategic thinking. They have commented that, in the private sector and even in other public-sector organisations, when two or more organisations are merged, you would need a business plan, highlighting the benefits, drawbacks and risks, and you would then make a decision based on that evidence.

From a so-called evidence-based administration, there has been no evidence in that respect. It was conceived by the First Minister on the back of a fag packet, and he is now seeking to justify that decision by putting together all of these cases.

On the £10.6 million in so-called savings that will be achieved, we note that it will be achieved in the long term, and that the Minister for Economic Development and Transport could not give us a detailed breakdown this morning of how that will be made up.

Therefore, one of the amendments has been tabled to highlight the ad-hoc approach that the Assembly Government has taken. One consequence of this ad-hoc approach is the damage to the morale and the enthusiasm of the staff. It led to the departure of the chief executive officer, and also caused the director of the international division and board members to leave.

Many of those leaving have given the official reason that they wanted to spend more time with their families, which is what many football managers say, of course, but they are being kicked out because their faces do not fit. That is what is happening here.

I think that it was Carl Sargeant who said in committee this morning that you should not believe all that you read in the papers.

From discussions with those at the most senior levels, with board members, and with those at more junior levels, it is obvious why those people have left: it is because they are not satisfied with the Minister's intervention, and they cannot face being directly run by the Minister following the merger with the Welsh Assembly Government.

We have seen evidence of low staff morale in the leaked survey. I am surprised that the Minister has not been able to answer—although it was over a week ago that the questions were first raised in committee—why 45 per cent of WDA staff have considered leaving the agency.

This is a service organisation, so all of its assets are in its staff. The ad-hoc approach of the Assembly Government is clearly enormously damaging.

Pension matters have not been raised; if there had been a business plan, pension matters would have been covered, and that would have been one of the drawbacks and potentially one of the risks.

The statement that fewer staff are leaving the WDA and the other quangos now than have left in the previous six months is logical: there are, potentially, redundancy packages on offer.

If you are thinking about going to work for another organisation, but know that if you hang on for a couple of months you might be offered redundancy, you are not going to leave. That answer, Minister, clearly does not wash.

Moving on, the second theme that I highlighted is the need to safeguard scrutiny. We all know that the current structures within the Assembly, particularly the committee structures, do not allow for adequate scrutiny. At the moment, we know that we can go to see the chief executives and the board members of the relevant quangos.

However, following the merger, we can only question the Minister. We all see the quality of the answers that the Minister gives when we table questions, and we all see the responses to freedom of information questions: not only are they delayed until uncomfortable times have passed, but when questions are tabled to the Welsh Assembly Government, they only provide half of the information, where, in contrast, the agencies now provide all of the information.

The Government clearly edits the uncomfortable bits of information, which demonstrates that its commitment to open government and to scrutiny is nothing more than rhetoric.

In closing—I recognise that time is short—I want to focus on delivery, and to ask the First Minister what he means by 'reasonably independent'. Will it be like the task and finish groups? These are supposed to be independent, but when we tabled questions, we found out that large numbers of them were made up of either Labour Party members, former Labour Party members or Labour Party activists in some shape or form.

An independent evaluation would be a genuinely independent evaluation agreed by all Assembly Members, or at least by all parties within the Assembly. If you agree to that, then you will at least have made one concession that is in the interest of public service delivery in Wales.

If you reject that amendment and that request it shows that, as with everything else that you have said, this is all rhetoric and means nothing: you just want centralist control so that you can claim the credit for everything. However, there is one final consolation. Up until now, when something has gone wrong with the quangos—and Jane Davidson was a perfect example of this, in relation to the Pop Factory—it has been nothing to do with the Minister. After 1 April, these matters will have absolutely everything to do with you."

"Nid wyf yn siwr a fydd pum munud yn ddigon i gwmpasu pob mater, ond byddwch yn falch o glywed imi amlygu tair thema bendant sy'n deillio o'r gwelliannau i wneud fy sylwadau yn fwy cryno. Y tair thema bendant yw: yr ymagwedd ad hoc y mae Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wedi ei mabwysiadu yn hyn o beth; yr angen i ddiogelu'r broses graffu, a'n hangen i ganolbwyntio ar ddarpariaeth.

O ran y thema gyntaf, gwyddom fod hwn yn bolisi a luniwyd yn wael. Mae derbynwyr y gwasanaeth wedi nodi'n glir y diffyg meddwl strategol. Maent wedi nodi, yn y sector preifat a hyd yn oed mewn sefydliadau eraill yn y sector cyhoeddus, pan unir dau neu fwy o sefydliadau, y byddai angen cynllun busnes arnoch, yn amlygu'r manteision, yr anfanteision a'r risgiau, ac yna byddech yn gwneud penderfyniad yn seiliedig ar y dystiolaeth honno.

O weinyddiaeth sy'n honni ei bod yn gweithredu ar sail tystiolaeth, ni fu unrhyw dystiolaeth yn hynny o beth. Fe'i lluniwyd gan y Prif Weinidog ar gefn pecyn sigaréts, ac yn awr mae'n ceisio cyfiawnhau'r penderfyniad hwnnw drwy roi'r holl achosion hyn at ei gilydd.

O ran y £10.6 miliwn mewn arbedion honedig a gyflawnir, nodwn y caiff ei gyflawni yn yr hirdymor, ac na allai'r Gweinidog dros Ddatblygu Economaidd a Thrafnidiaeth roi dadansoddiad manwl inni y bore yma o ble y caiff yr arbedion eu gwneud.

Felly, cyflwynwyd un o'r gwelliannau er mwyn amlygu'r ymagwedd ad-hoc a gymerwyd gan Lywodraeth y Cynulliad. Un o ganlyniadau'r ymagwedd ad-hoc hon yw'r niwed i forâl a brwdfrydedd y staff. Arweiniodd at ymadawiad y prif swyddog gweithredol, a pherodd hefyd i gyfarwyddwr yr isadran ryngwladol ac aelodau'r bwrdd adael.

Mae llawer o'r rheini sy'n gadael wedi rhoi'r rheswm swyddogol sef eu bod am dreulio mwy o amser gyda'u teuluoedd, sef yr hyn a ddywed llawer o reolwyr pêl-droed, wrth gwrs, ond maent yn cael eu gwthio o'r neilltu am nad ydynt yn dderbyniol. Dyna'r hyn sy'n digwydd yma.

O drafodaethau gyda'r rhai ar y lefel uchaf, gydag aelodau bwrdd, a chyda'r rhai ar y lefelau is, mae'n amlwg pam bod y bobl hynny wedi gadael: maent yn gadael am nad ydynt yn fodlon ar ymyriad y Gweinidog, ac na allant wynebu cael eu rhedeg yn uniongyrchol gan y Gweinidog yn dilyn yr uniad â Llywodraeth y Cynulliad.

Gwelsom dystiolaeth o forâl isel ymhlith staff yn yr arolwg a gafodd ei ddatgelu. Mae'n syndod gennyf nad oedd y Gweinidog yn gallu ateb—er i'r cwestiynau gael eu codi y tro cyntaf yn y pwyllgor dros wyhtnos yn ôl—pam mae 45 y cant o staff y WDA wedi ystyried gadael yr awdurdod.

Sefydliad gwasanaethu yw hwn, felly ei staff yw ei asedau. Mae ymagwedd ad-hoc Llywodraeth y Cynulliad yn amlwg yn niweidiol iawn.

Ni chodwyd materion pensiwn; pe bai cynllun busnes wedi bodoli, byddai materion pensiwn wedi cael eu cwmpasu, a byddai hynny wedi bod yn un o'r anfanteision ac, o bosibl, yn un o'r risgiau.

Mae'r datganiad bod llai o staff yn gadael y WDA a'r cwangos eraill yn awr nag sydd wedi gadael yn y chwe mis diwethaf yn rhesymegol: mae pecynnau dileu swydd, o bosibl, yn cael eu cynnig.

Os ydych yn ystyried mynd i weithio i sefydliad arall, ond eich bod yn gwybod pe baech yn aros am ychydig fisoedd y gallech gael cynnig tâl dileu swydd, nid ydych yn mynd i adael. Mae'n amlwg, Weinidog, na wnaiff yr ateb hwnnw mo'r tro.

Gan symud ymlaen, yr ail thema a amlygwyd gennyf yw'r angen i ddiogelu'r swyddogaeth graffu. Gwyddom oll nad yw'r strwythurau presennol o fewn y Cynulliad, yn enwedig strwythurau'r pwyllgorau, yn caniatáu ar gyfer craffu digonol. Ar hyn o bryd, gwyddom y gallwn fynd at y prif weithredwyr ac aelodau bwrdd y cwangos perthnasol.

Fodd bynnag, yn dilyn yr uniad, ni allwn ond cwestiynu'r Gweinidog. Yr ydym oll yn gweld safon yr atebion a rydd y Gweinidog pan gyflwynwn gwestiynau, ac yr ydym oll yn gweld yr ymatebion i gwestiynau rhyddid gwybodaeth: cânt nid yn unig eu gohirio hyd nes bod adegau anghyfforddus wedi mynd heibio, ond pan gyflwynir cwestiynau i Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru, dim ond hanner y wybodaeth a ddarperir ganddynt, lle, i'r gwrthwyneb, mae'r asiantaethau bellach yn darparu'r holl wybodaeth.

Mae'r Llywodraeth yn amlwg yn golygu'r darnau anghyfforddus o wybodaeth, sy'n dangos bod ei hymrwymiad i lywodraeth agored ac i graffu yn ddim mwy na rhethreg.

I gloi—cydnabyddaf fod amser yn brin—yr wyf am ganolbwyntio ar ddarpariaeth, a gofynnaf i'r Prif Weinidog beth yw ystyr 'yn gymharol annibynnol'. A fydd yn debyg i'r grwpiau gorchwyl a gorffen?

Mae'r rhain i fod yn annibynnol, ond pan wnaethom gyflwyno cwestiynau, canfuom fod nifer fawr ohonynt yn cynnwys naill ai aelodau o'r Blaid Lafur, cyn aelodau o'r Blaid Lafur neu actifyddion y Blaid Lafur mewn rhyw ffordd neu'i gilydd.

Byddai gwerthusiad annibynnol yn werthusiad cwbl annibynnol y byddai holl Aelodau'r Cynulliad, neu o leiaf yr holl bleidiau o fewn y Cynulliad yn cytuno arno. Os cytunwch i wneud hynny, yna byddwch o leiaf wedi gwneud un consesiwn sydd er budd y ddarpariaeth o wasanaethau cyhoeddus yng Nghymru.

Os gwrthodwch y gwelliant hwnnw a'r cais hwnnw, mae'n dangos, fel gyda phopeth arall a ddywedwyd gennych, mai rhethreg lwyr yw hyn i gyd ac nad yw'n golygu dim: yr unig beth a ddymunwch yw rheolaeth ganolog fel y gallwch hawlio'r clod am bopeth.

Fodd bynnag, mae un cysur arall. Hyd yn hyn, pan aeth rhywbeth o'i le gyda'r cwangos—ac yr oedd Jane Davidson yn enghraifft berffaith o hyn, mewn perthynas â'r Ffatri Bop—nid oedd a wnelo o gwbl â'r Gweinidog. Ar ôl 1 Ebrill, bydd y materion hyn yn ymwneud yn gyfan gwbl â chi."

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech