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Give Welsh cities control of business rates urges Hain

Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain is urging the Welsh Government to hand over revenue from business rates to new city regions to help transform the economy of Wales. He says ministers in Cardiff should follow the recommendation of a report by former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis.

Labour leader Ed Miliband used the report as the basis for his pledge to give strong powers including control of business rates to 'regional powerhouses' in England. Here in Wales there are already plans for two city regions, one based around Swansea and the other in the South East.

Control over business rates is partially devolved but is expected to be transferred to the Welsh Government in full through the Wales Bill currently being considered by Parliament. In a speech in Cardiff tonight Peter Hain will say.

When business rates are devolved to the Assembly as part of the new Wales Bill, the Welsh Government should look at the possibility of giving full control over revenue to new city and county regions.

The Adonis Review calls for the creation of more combined authorities modelled on that which already exists for Greater Manchester to tackle the chronic problems of poor skills, infrastructure and economic development. This is a welcome proposal and consistent with existing Welsh Government policy on local government reorganisation and the city region agenda.

The Welsh Government should also look to adopt Adonis's proposal for a long term innovation strategy in science and technology, which will help grow Wales’s R&D sector. The Review makes a series of recommendations for using the power of government to nurture the growth of small businesses, which the Welsh Government should also look at, including ensuring more government procurement contracts go to SMEs both directly and through supply chains.

– Peter Hain MP


Peter Hain to stand down as Neath MP

The long standing MP for Neath Peter Hain has announced he will stand down from his position at the next general election.

The 64-year-old will look for a new role within the Labour party following talks with leader Ed Miliband.

Hain though remained tight lipped on the prospect on becoming a member of the House of Lords.

Tom Sheldrick reports:

Peter Hain 'to play a different role' - but won't say what

Peter Hain has told ITV News he will "play a different role" in politics after he steps down as MP for Neath next year, but refused to say what that role would be.

The 64-year-old former Welsh Secretary said he had made his decision to leave the House of Commons after discussion with Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Hain said he will "continue to be active in politics", supporting Labour and Neath.

Asked whether he would become a member of the House of Lords, he said: "I'm not talking about any particular role I might perform."

Mr Hain told our reporter Tom Sheldrick that his early work in fighting apartheid, delivering extra powers for the Welsh Assembly and helping secure a political settlement as Northern Ireland Secretary were "the things I feel most proud about".

Neath's Constituency Labour Party pay tribute to Peter Hain's service

Neath's Constituency Labour Party has paid tribute to Mr Hain's service.

In a statement it said:

"For the last 23 years Peter Hain has served the people of Neath tirelessly, fighting for constituents and our Labour Party values.

Holding government positions like secretary of state for Wales he delivered further devolution for the people of Wales and at the department of trade and Industry he brought many hundreds of millions of pounds of compensation to thousands of chronically ill miners.

His unstinting work to negotiate a peace settlement in Northern Ireland has brought a stability to the area that just years before no-one would have thought possible.

In the Neath constituency he has helped many thousands of people through his surgeries and advice office. For over two decades he has been a popular campaigning MP fighting for residents and taking up the causes with great passion and commitment, and putting Neath on the map.

We thank Peter unreservedly for what he has done for us and are sure he will continue to play an active role in the constituency and the party.

As a constituency party we now look to begin the process of finding our parliamentary candidate for the 2015 general election and winning a Labour majority.

Peter Hain to stand down as Neath MP

Peter Hain has represented the constituency for 23 years Credit: PA

Peter Hain has announced he will stand down as the Labour MP for Neath at next year's general election.

The former Cabinet minister said he had "decided to draw stumps" on his Commons career following a series of discussions with Ed Miliband.

Mr Miliband praised the Neath MP for his integrity, wisdom and tireless work for the country and said he would be sorely missed.

During his lengthy career, he served in the cabinet under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, with stints as Welsh secretary, Northern Ireland secretary, work and pensions secretary and leader of the Commons.

Mr Hain had been reselected to fight for the 2015 election for Neath, but said he would now find 'new ways' to be involved in politics.


'Bloody terrorism' will continue without Middle East breakthrough says Hain

Neath MP Peter Hain tells our Political Editor Adrian Masters more about his concerns about the long-held, long-term aim for peace in the Middle East. In a lecture at Swansea he says a 'two-state solution' may no longer be achievable.

Speaking as a former Middle East Minister, Mr Hain says there are formidable difficulties in the way of creating a single state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians. But he says unless a solution is found 'the conflict and the bloody terrorism' in the region will continue.

Hain questions 'two-state' aim for Middle East

The former cabinet minister, Peter Hain, has questioned whether or not a long-held aim for peace in the Middle East is achievable. He makes the remarks in a public lecture at Swansea University tonight.

Speaking as a former minister with responsibility for the Middle East, the Neath MP says the 'two-state solution' of a separate Israel and Palestine existing side by side is looking increasingly unlikely because of sustained Israeli settlement on land earmarked for a possible Palestinian state.

And he says it may be time to consider an alternative solution: a single state with Israelis and Palestinians given equal rights.

I am both a long standing supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel. As a British Minister for the Middle East in 1999-2001 I worked closely with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. My record of fighting apartheid, racism and anti-Semitism is long and recognised.

For two decades I have favoured a two-state solution as the best plan for peace and the fairest outcome, one backed by the US, the United Nations, the European Union and all 22 countries of the Arab League. Officially, it’s the stated policy of the current Israeli government and of the Palestinian Authority.

But I am increasingly unsure about whether it’s still achievable – mainly because, as time has marched on, and successive negotiating initiatives have come and gone, the land earmarked for a viable Palestinian state has been remorselessly occupied by Israeli settlers.

– Peter Hain MP
  1. Nick Powell

Buyers found for two Welsh Remploy factories

Remploy says it's received bids for its factories in Porth and Port Talbot. The news comes as the company also announced it's to close a further nine of its factories across the UK. The company, which provides jobs for disabled workers says it hopes to complete the Porth sale by mid-August.

Remploy's been shrinking its business because the Westminster government wants it to operate on a commercial basis. Today, the minister for the disabled, Esther McVey, told MPs that the Port Talbot factory "remains in the commercial process". That did not reassure the MP for Neath, Peter Hain.

Is not the truth that amid all the minister’s spin and management-speak, she is strangling Remploy to death, and there is no prospect of the most vulnerable disabled workers in their 50s who work there all the time getting jobs in mainstream employment? Also, she has given no guarantees ... and nor has the preferred bidder, who is based in Yorkshire, that the Neath Port Talbot site at Baglan will remain open. Can she give a guarantee on that now?

– Peter Hain MP

There was no spin in what I said ... as for his comment about strangling, that is incorrect, too. I would say “liberating”. That is why some of the factories that closed have reopened and we are supporting them as best we can.

– Minister for the Disabled Esther McVey MP

The Wales Office said efforts to find jobs for former Remploy workers were having some success.

This Government's priority throughout this process has been to safeguard jobs for disabled people. 200 personal case workers have been made available to provide individual support to Remploy workers affected by the changes . Through the tailored nature of this support package, 130 former Remploy workers in Wales have found new work. I welcome the news that a number of high quality bids have been received for the Remploy site in Port Talbot and Porth. Remploy will [have] the aim of protecting as many jobs for disabled employees as possible."

– Wales Office Minister Stephen Crabb MP
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