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Cairns: Welsh government must turn spending into delivery

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"Having heard the comments made by the Minister and the Member for Blaenau Gwent, I hope to speak some sense.

From listening to them, it would seem that there will be enormous improvements in the quality of public services as a result of increased spending.

There has been increased spending over the past five years; we acknowledge that, because the facts are clear. However, we have not seen the improvements in public services that the Minister and the Member for Blaenau Gwent have mentioned.

Before I expose the weaknesses within the budget and in terms of delivery, I will highlight the fact that the Minister has committed funding for future years when she knows that it will be almost impossible for the Chancellor to stick to his spending round.

He will break his golden rule, as all independent observers have predicted, although he was denying that in the press on Sunday. Burying his head in the sand will not change the situation. It would be useful to know whether the Minister has a contingency plan.

If Gordon Brown decides not to stick to what he calls the golden rule, and if there are cuts in the budget from central Government, it would be useful to know where the Minister will make cuts. It is quite obvious that the Chancellor cannot continue to spend on that basis.

The hallmark of this administration, and of that in Westminster, is that they are spend more, deliver less, governments. Health is the key issue that most people in Wales are concerned about, because we have the longest waiting lists in the UK and Europe by an enormous amount.

Although spending on health has increased by 50 per cent over the past five years, the number of operations and treatments under the health service has remained static.

That is not value for money and that is the hallmark of this administration. We would welcome any increased spend on these issues that the Minister promises, but we would much prefer to see that money being used in the most efficient way to improve front-line services.

The Welsh Assembly Government, thank goodness, does not have the power to increase direct taxes. That is stated within the Government of Wales Act 1998, and those limits have been placed on this organisation.

However, the Government does have enormous influence on council tax levels within the principality. The rebanding exercise, in addition to the enormous increases over recent years, will push council tax to unprecedented levels in Wales.

There has been a 3.7 per cent increase in the revenue support grant in areas such as the Vale of Glamorgan, which, when you consider inflation, the pension shortfall and the teachers' workload agreement, will not come anywhere near what is needed to deliver the obligations that have been placed on local authorities.

I attended a Stuart's Campaign meeting last night, during which some clear, common-sense objectives for improving safety were highlighted. However, in reality, the Vale of Glamorgan Council does not have the resources to introduce the changes that it wishes to introduce.

It is leading the way in terms of the changes that it has made to improve school transport safety—other local authorities have made changes, but not all of them—but it is costing an enormous sum of money. It is about time that the administration assisted in funding that to improve pupil transport safety.

My key point relates to the Welsh Development Agency budget, which remains static for the next three years according to this budget. There are two issues in that respect.

There will be inflationary effects over the coming years and there will be greater costs as a result of the merger of the WDA with the Welsh Assembly Government, even if there will be long-term savings over the next three years.

I hope that the Minister will highlight which of the agency's core services she expects will see a cut in funding. Which companies that would normally have received grants will not receive them now as a result of the budget and the Welsh Assembly Government's policies?

Similarly, the Pathways to Prosperity budget remains static—£19 million over the years to come.

It is interesting to note how that budget has fluctuated several times over recent years, but there will be more to say on that when the Minister responds openly and frankly to the questions that have been tabled on this matter."

"Ar ôl clywed y sylwadau gan y Gweinidog a'r Aelod dros Flaenau Gwent, gobeithiaf siarad yn synhwyrol. O wrando arnynt hwy, ymddengys y bydd gwelliannau enfawr yn ansawdd gwasanaethau cyhoeddus o ganlyniad i wariant mwy.

Bu cynnydd yn y gwariant dros y pum mlynedd diwethaf; yr ydym yn cydnabod hynny, gan fod y ffeithiau'n glir. Er hynny, ni welsom y gwelliannau mewn gwasanaethau cyhoeddus y mae'r Gweinidog a'r Aelod dros Flaenau Gwent wedi cyfeirio atynt.

Cyn imi ddangos y gwendidau yn y gyllideb a'r dulliau o'i chyflawni, tynnaf sylw at y ffaith bod y Gweinidog wedi neilltuo cyllid ar gyfer blynyddoedd y dyfodol tra gwyr y bydd bron yn amhosibl i'r Canghellor ddal at ei gylch gwariant.

Bydd yn torri ei reol aur, fel y mae'r holl sylwebyddion annibynnol wedi ei ragweld, er iddo wadu hynny yn y wasg ddydd Sul. Ni fydd yn gallu newid y sefyllfa drwy guddio ei ben yn y tywod.

Byddai'n fuddiol cael gwybod a oes gan y Gweinidog gynllun wrth gefn, Os penderfyna Gordon Brown na fydd yn glynu wrth yr hyn a eilw'n rheol aur, ac os ceir toriadau yn y gyllideb oddi wrth Lywodraeth ganolog, byddai'n fuddiol cael gwybod ym mhle y gwnaiff y Gweinidog doriadau. Mae'n gwbl amlwg na all y Canghellor barhau i wario ar y sail honno.

Nod amgen y weinyddiaeth hon, a'r un yn San Steffan, yw eu bod yn gwario mwy ac yn cyflawni llai. Iechyd yw'r pwnc allweddol y mae'r rhan fwyaf o bobl yng Nghymru'n pryderu yn ei gylch, oherwydd gennym ni y mae'r rhestrau aros hwyaf o lawer yn y DU ac Ewrop.

Er bod 50 y cant yn fwy wedi'i wario ar iechyd dros y pum mlynedd diwethaf, mae nifer y llawdriniaethau a thriniaethau o dan y gwasanaeth iechyd wedi aros yn ei unfan.

Nid gwerth am arian yw peth felly a dyna nod amgen y weinyddiaeth hon. Croesawem unrhyw gynnydd yn y gwariant ar y materion hyn a addewir gan y Gweinidog, ond byddai'n well o lawer gennym weld defnyddio'r arian hwnnw yn y modd mwyaf effeithlon i wella gwasanaethau yn y rheng flaen.

Nid yw Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru yn meddu ar bwer i gynyddu trethi uniongyrchol, diolch byth. Datgenir hynny yn Neddf Llywodraeth Cymru 1998, ac mae'r cyfyngiadau hynny wedi'u gosod ar y corff hwn.

Er hynny, caiff y Llywodraeth ddylanwad enfawr ar lefelau'r dreth gyngor yn y dywysogaeth. Bydd yr ailfandio, yn ogystal â'r codiadau enfawr dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, yn gwthio'r dreth gyngor i lefelau na welwyd eu tebyg yng Nghymru.

Mae'r grant cynnal refeniw wedi codi 3.7 y cant mewn ardaloedd fel Bro Morgannwg, ac, wrth ystyried chwyddiant, y diffyg mewn pensiynau a'r cytundeb ynghylch llwyth gwaith athrawon, gwelir y bydd hynny ymhell o fod yn ddigon i gyflawni'r rhwymedigaethau a osodwyd ar awdurdodau lleol.

Bûm mewn cyfarfod gan Ymgyrch Stuart neithiwr, pan dynnwyd sylw at rai amcanion clir a synhwyrol i wella diogelwch. Fodd bynnag, mewn gwirionedd, nid oes digon o adnoddau gan Gyngor Bro Morgannwg i gyflwyno'r newidiadau y mae'n eu dymuno.

Mae'n arwain y ffordd yng nghyd-destun y newidiadau a wnaeth i wella diogelwch ar gludiant i'r ysgol—mae awdurdodau lleol eraill wedi gwneud newidiadau, ond nid pob un ohonynt—ond mae'n costio swm anferth o arian.

Mae'n hen bryd i'r weinyddiaeth hon roi cymorth ariannol tuag at hynny er mwyn gwella diogelwch yn y cludiant ar gyfer disgyblion.

Mae'r prif bwynt sydd gennyf yn ymwneud â chyllideb Awdurdod Datblygu Cymru, a fydd yn aros yn sefydlog dros y tair blynedd nesaf yn ôl y gyllideb hon. Mae dau fater yn codi yn hynny o beth.

Ceir effeithiau oherwydd chwyddiant dros y blynyddoedd i ddod a bydd mwy o gostau o ganlyniad i uno'r WDA â Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru, hyd yn oed os ceir arbedion tymor hir dros y tair blynedd nesaf. Gobeithiaf y bydd y Gweinidog yn nodi ym mha wasanaethau craidd o eiddo'r awdurdod y mae'n disgwyl y ceir cwtogi ar gyllid.

Pa gwmnïau â gâi grantiau fel arfer na fyddant yn eu derbyn yn awr o ganlyniad i'r gyllideb a pholisïau Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru? Yn yr un modd, mae'r gyllideb ar gyfer Ffyrdd i Ffyniant yn aros yn ei hunfan—£19 miliwn dros y blynyddoedd sydd i ddod.

Diddorol yw nodi bod y gyllideb honno wedi newid sawl gwaith dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, ond bydd rhagor i'w ddweud am hynny pan fydd y Gweinidog yn ymateb yn agored ac yn onest i'r cwestiynau a gyflwynwyd ar y mater hwn."

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