Saturday, 7 November 2009

Carwyn says "Time to lead - Power means responsibility"

Welsh Labour Leadership candidate, Carwyn Jones, says today that increased powers for the National Assembly must go hand-in-hand with an increased responsibility and commitment to improve public services in Wales.

Carwyn is the only candidate in the election to link constitutional reform directly to improvements in public service delivery, saying the people of Wales may want more devolution but they also want politicians to do better when it comes to improving their services.

Carwyn warns:

"With power comes responsibility. I support increased powers for the National Assembly, but if we have stronger powers we also have a stronger responsibility to ensure effective delivery. With power comes accountability. We cannot allow bureaucratic processes or systemic boundaries to undermine delivery. Our current structures of governance in the public service - in local authorities and health services for example - must be platforms for delivery, not stand-alone empires. Otherwise the people will demand more radical change."

Carwyn is seeking to set a new direction for future Government thinking on public service delivery:

"Five years after the 'Making the Connections' report was published, people are impatient for change. Three years after the Beecham Report, it is time for the Local Service Boards to show they are delivering. Are they meaningful structures to advance public service collaboration or are they simply sticking-plaster? Are they driving real change in service delivery, or are they just talking shops?

"Beecham called for common principles of citizen-centred, efficient and accountable services in a small country, and for more ambitious leadership at national and local level. If elected Labour Leader in the Assembly, I will lead a review next year of progress against the Beecham targets."

Spelling out his vision for renewing Welsh democracy and delivering more devolution in the future, Carwyn said:

"Labour delivered devolution. I was proud to campaign for a yes vote in 1997 as secretary of 'Bridgend Says Yes'. In the 2006 Government of Wales Act, Labour delivered the framework for the Assembly to have law-making powers if backed by the people in a referendum.

"I have always been committed to further law-making powers for Wales.

"I am totally committed to what was agreed in 'One Wales' but that should in no way preclude my responsibility, if elected Leader, to consult within the wider Party on the findings and recommendations of the All Wales Convention.

"But consideration of the Convention's report must not be a matter solely for AMs to decide - it must involve the entire Labour movement in Wales, AMs, MPs, grassroots members and trade unions.

"I will campaign for a Yes vote when the referendum is called, but we need a united Labour Party for a victory."

Speaking about the challenge in the years ahead when it comes to how Wales is funded, Carwyn said:

"Wales should be funded according to the needs of our population and we are not at the moment. I will promote this argument vigorously and loudly to the UK Government.

"We face real challenges in Wales over the next few years, as we try to protect public services at a time of financial stringency. We will be judged by Aneurin Bevan’s statement that ‘the language of priorities is the religion of socialism."

"We are a small country, and that should give us advantages in delivering public services more effectively, cutting across boundaries in the public sector. We have done a lot as a Labour-led Assembly Government. But we can and must do better. The people of Wales know we can do better. They want us to do better. Our challenge is to make things happen.

"I know the people of Wales also want us to do better when it comes to the quality of public service delivery. As Labour Leader in the Assembly, I will rise to that challenge."

Carwyn says that reforming public services means learning from the experience of frontline public service workers:

"We must learn from frontline public service workers. They have a clear view of how services can be made more responsive to citizens. They are at the sharp end and they know what works. We must involve them and service-users in ensuring the better delivery of services, looking to break down bureaucratic practices that put process before people’s needs. We need a proper social partnership across the public sector."

Local government will be central to delivering Carwyn's vision for improved public services in Wales in the future. Drawing on his experience as a member of local authority, he said:

"I served as a one of Wales’s youngest councillors when I was elected in 1995, and I know that our local authorities have an important impact on the day to day quality of life in our communities.

"We have funded local authorities well since 1999, and there are excellent examples of innovative practice, but we need to push further, faster, to ensure better services that are value for money.

"However, in the future, there will be a need to deliver more shared services, with specialists moving between authorities when required. I want the focus to be on core services and local regeneration, with an explicit focus on sustainability and reducing inequality.

"I will seek to avoid wholesale reorganisation - provided we get delivery and improved performance - and instead promote greater co-operation across Wales.

"Local democratic accountability is about priorities and the front line services delivered to citizens, it is not about IT systems, payroll departments or how invoices are paid. These are essential services with dedicated staff but they should be run at the scale that makes the greatest sense for efficiency."


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