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Sharp End

Presented by our Political Editor Adrian Masters, Sharp End brings you reports, interviews and analysis every Thursday

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Face to Face

Adrian Masters talks to political leaders, public figures and extraordinary people in this series of one-to-one interviews.

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Timeline: The political career of Lord Tonypandy

George Thomas election
George Thomas, second from left, as Labour MP for Cardiff Credit: ITV Wales

Lord Tonypandy was one of Wales's leading politicians having held numerous of the UK's top political posts. Here are some key facts about his career:

  • 1945: Elected as Labour MP for Cardiff
  • 1968: He was appointed Welsh Secretary overseeing the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales
  • 1976 until 1983 he was Speaker of the House of Commons
  • After retiring he entered the house of lord as Viscount Tonypandy and died in 1997

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Police urge victims to come forward

South Wales Police has urged victims of sexual assault or rape to come forward. It follows confirmation that an investigation has begun into claims former Speaker of the House of Commons George Thomas, later Lord Tonypandy, abused a child in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"It is important that victims have the confidence to come forward and speak to us. We take any allegations regarding sexual assault or rape extremely seriously and urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of crime to make contact with us."

– South Wales Police

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Grey-Thompson: excruciating pain didn't make me suicidal

Welsh Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson has told the House of Lords of her fear that legalising assisted dying for the terminally ill would lead to some disabled people feeling pressurised into ending their lives.

There is a myth that our lives are so tragic or painful that we must want to end them. Just this week I was told, “You must have wanted to kill yourself many times in your life”. No, I have not. I have experienced excruciating pain. When I was 19, I snapped a metal rod off my spine that came out through my skin, but I have never considered killing myself. The fact is, however, that many people expected that I would ask for that. What if those people were related to me?

Some of the cases highlighted in the media concern people who are not terminally ill and would supposedly not fit the terms of the Bill. However, this raises concerns that this is just the tip of the iceberg or an attempt to soften public opinion. The charity Care has shown that those who support the Bill in principle change their mind when they are presented with the reality of assisted suicide. Then the percentage of those who support it drops from 73% to 43%.

– Baroness Grey-Thompson

Welsh peers clash over assisted dying

The first two Welsh peers to speak in the debate on the Assisted Dying Bill took opposite points of view. A change in the law was backed by the former Plaid Cymru Leader Dafydd Wigley, who has long campaigned for the rights of disabled people and who lost two sons to a terminal illness.

Those lucky enough to have the material resources and family support can go to Switzerland to end their lives, whereas those without the resources or family support have to struggle on from day to day, suffering pain and anguish with no means of relief in their reach.

The existing prohibition on medical assistance to die causes some terminally ill people to take matters into their own hands, without adequate support, and some relatives to risk prosecution for helping a loved one die.

Disability issues have been high on my agenda throughout my parliamentary career. I am clearly uneasy if this legislation causes anxiety to some disabled people. The Bill is geared not to disability, but to terminal illnesses, which generally are totally unrelated to disability.

– Lord Wigley

The bill was strongly opposed by Baroness Finlay, the Cardiff doctor who was sent to the House of Lords in recognition of her work in caring for the terminally ill.

It is not about a right to die. Everyone will die. If you do not want treatment that might prolong your life, you can refuse it. For those with motor neurone disease on a ventilator who want to stop treatment, we can manage their dying peacefully and gently as they die of their illness.

I have seen the strongest people, including politicians and senior doctors, be the most vulnerable when facing dying—vulnerable to coercive influence and vulnerable to their fears. The role of my profession is to address those fears and to support those people, not to encourage them, even silently, to believe that they should foreshorten their lives.

Today’s doctors are worn down by workload. They do not know their patients in detail. They know only what they are told in a brief encounter. They cannot possibly detect coercion from family.

– Baroness Finlay

M4 decision 'could have been handled better' says Labour AM

Labour's Mick Antoniw tells Political Editor Adrian Masters that the Welsh Government's decision on the M4 relief road project 'could have been handled better.'

He's a member of the Environment Committee which completed its report into the plan today. Other Labour members are also said to be disappointed that the announcement was made before the committee finished its scrutiny.

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