On his last day in the House of Commons, Neath MP Peter Hain has demanded an explanation of why he and other MPs allegedly had police surveillance files kept open on them. He said it was hardly a revelation that the special branch had a file on people like him, dating back 40 years to his time as an anti-apartheid activist. But he was concerned at the suggestion that the file remained active after he became an MP in 1991.
Surely the fact that these files were still active for at least 10 years while we were MPs raises fundamental questions about parliamentary sovereignty and privilege—principles that are vital to our democracy. It is one thing to have a police file on an MP suspected of crime, child abuse or even co-operating with terrorism, but quite another to maintain one deriving from campaigns promoting values of social justice, human rights and equal opportunities that are shared by millions of British people. Surely that means travelling down a road that endangers the liberty of us all.
The claim about files on MPs was made by a former undercover police officer, Peter Francis. The minister responsible for the police, Mike Penning, said this was the kind of allegation that had led the Home Secretary to set up an inquiry under a senior judge.
Undercover policing is an essential tactic in fighting crime. However, we have known for some time that there have been serious historical failings in undercover policing and its practices. To improve the public’s confidence in undercover work, we must ensure that there is no repeat of these failings. That is why the Home Secretary established a public inquiry earlier this month -to investigate thoroughly undercover policing and the operation of the special demonstration squad
The Welsh Secretary says voters in the Westminster election will think about their economic prospects, not more powers for the Assembly.Read the full story ›
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.