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Melding: Welsh government rides roughshod over democracy

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales

"One of the Labour Members in this debate said that the opposition parties were just trying to 'do politics' in the Assembly.

Well, yes, I think that that is just about the sum of it, because, after all, this is the political arena where large Government schemes are scrutinised.

This scheme will, I believe, cost in the order of £20 million and will probably achieve some major social good.

However, what would happen if we allowed such a procedure to go forward today, allowing the Minister to circumvent the normal processes of scrutiny?

It would encourage members of the Executive to be as slipshod as possible in the preparation of legislation and schemes because they could then play this dramatic card, saying that people will not get money because the opposition parties are insisting on the full scrutiny process.

I thought that it was quite disgusting of Alun Pugh to bark 'What about the money, what about the money?' at one of the Plaid Cymru Members.

What about the money, Minister? Had you done your job a bit better, we would not be in this pickle.

What is really pernicious about your argument is that you could apply it to every measure that goes through the Assembly that carries any financial commitment if the Minister and the Executive has not done its job properly and built into the process the time required for scrutiny.

Why have a secondary legislative body if it is not allowed to do its job? It is as simple as that.

If the Executive gets away with this now, there will be no check on it and that is the most dangerous political situation to be in because one day, you will be on the opposition benches, trying to scrutinise the Executive, and you will have cocksure Ministers barking at you, 'Where is the money, what will happen?' and 'You tell the people who will suffer'.

If the Minister had acted appropriately on this scheme, we would have been able to scrutinise it, and even extend it and include more people in the measure.

The Minister made a cheap and easy promise before she was in a position to do so.

We ought to visit the school that Huw Lewis mentioned and tell those students that they should not have relied on what the Minister said at the time, as she had not done all the preparatory work required.

She raised hopes prematurely when she could not guarantee to deliver on them. We are now being asked to pay the price, to swallow hard and not scrutinise the measure.

I will not add to Jenny Randerson's excellent speech, but I fully agree with her interpretation of Standing Order No. 29. The Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning ought to be ashamed of herself."

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