.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Plaid Ministers' worse day

Yesterday in delivering a statement on the funding of the Wales Millennium Centre, Plaid Cymru's Heritage Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, delivered the sort of obstructive, tight-lipped performance that if he had been on the receiving end as an opposition member he would have torn to shreds.

Everybody understood that negotiations were on-going and that Rhodri Glyn was not in a position to give us details of those but as David Melding said "it is extraordinary that a Minister comes to the Assembly Chamber to make an oral statement and then impugns those Members who are cheeky enough to hold him to account on what is being said. You are here to be scrutinised, Minister. If your decisions are effective and the proper ones, all the scrutiny that we could bring to bear will just strengthen your position. What we are doing now will strengthen effective negotiation. It is a bit rich for you to say that somehow these things are not now properly in the public realm. They clearly are."

There were a number of legitimate questions that could have been answered without compromising those negotiations, and which would have enhanced our understanding of how we reached this position in the first place, but the Minister was having none of it and he put up a brick wall to all enquiries.

If this was not Rhodri Glyn Thomas' finest hour it was nothing compared to his disgraceful behaviour and that of his party leader earlier in the day. He and Ieuan Wyn Jones were scheduled to attend the National Assembly’s Enterprise and Learning Committee to be scrutinised, however they failed to show up and left Education Minister, Jane Hutt to bear the brunt of the Committee's anger.

There really can be no excuse for this behaviour. Both Ministers are paid handsomely to take responsibility and to make decisions, there is a democratic process in place that they are part of. They cannot opt out of that process because they feel like it. We have already seen Plaid Cymru members seeking to excuse themselves of collective responsibility for actions taken by Labour Ministers. If this is what a Plaid Cymru Government would look like then both the Tories and us had a lucky escape. They are not fit for Government.
That was the flaw in the rainbow that made us hesitate - the nature of the other parties. Of the lot, oddly,probably the Tories would have been most likely to play the game. Poor Wales.
Wasn't it a Lib Dem Minister in charge when a wholly unrealistic funding formula for the M.C. was set up? How on earth can she claim ignorance when she was politically responsible?
What the then Minister in question, Jenny Randerson, said on Wednesday is this:

"When I was Minister, and we were
considering the capital funding and revenue implications of the Wales Millennium Centre, you know that a great deal of information
was given to the Culture Committee in order to establish cross-party understanding and, therefore, cross-party support. There was a
rigorous financial appraisal prior to the Assembly committing massive amounts of money to the centre, both in capital funding and in significant amounts on an annual
basis. That rigorous financial appraisal was undertaken by the Finance Minister at the time, by me and, indeed, by the committee. I
recall that we told the Wales Millennium Centre representatives to come back with a more realistic plan. We had a much more realistic and less optimistic plan under the
chairmanship of Lord David Rowe-Beddoe—he produced much tighter and more realistic suggestions as to where we would be."

The funding for the WMC was set up four or five years ago. Since that time Jenny's successor brought a number of loan guarantees to the Assembly for approval and he was responsible for monitoring and changing the arrangements to ensure that the WMC remained solvent or else coming back to the Assembly for further instructions. The arrangements set up by Jenny were fit for purpose as late as 2005 when the WMC gave evidence to the Culture Committee. She cannot be responsible for changes in circumstances since then.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that for months Assembly officials have been talking to the WMC about the financial black hole. The leak of the report was obviously designed by the WMC to put pressure on the Assembly to cough up the extra money during the budget negotiations. This yet again another example of the how the elite in Wales centred around Cardiff are so able to twist Assembly politicians around their little fingers. It's amazing what free seats to the Opera can get you. Meanwhile the plebs still wait for the revolution!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?