EU Council, Security & the Middle East

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I support air strikes on ISIS to stop its genocidal attacks in the region, particularly against Shi’a Muslims and Kurds and minorities, but there should be no question of British troops on the ground. However, we do need to support the Kurds particularly, in providing the equipment they need. In addition, neighbouring nations need to take ownership of this fight and the solution to it. Could the Prime Minister, therefore, press our close ally, the Saudis, to stop funding mediaeval barbarism by ISIS, and could he get Iran and Turkey to engage as well? Finally, could he schedule a full day’s debate in prime Government time on foreign policy? The world is a very dangerous place at the moment, including between Russia and Ukraine, and we need to have a proper debate, welcome though statements are.

The Prime Minister: On the right hon. Gentleman’s point about a fuller debate, we are looking at that: the House authorities are looking at it and I think it would be extremely worth while if time can be found. I very much agree with the tenor of what he says, which is that we should be looking to ask how we can best help those on the ground—the Iraqi Government, the Kurdish forces—who are doing their best to prevent humanitarian catastrophes and to make sure that Islamic State is properly addressed in Iraq? We should be asking how we can help, rather than thinking the west can somehow lead and overtake an intervention, but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there should be no question of British combat troops on the ground.

Israel & Gaza

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Surely friends of Israel, like the Prime Minister and I, have a duty at this time to speak the truth. These attacks, despite the horrendous rocket assaults on Israel and the extremism of Hamas, are not “disproportionate”; in any other conflict they would be described as war crimes. That is the truth. The problem also is that there is no end in sight to this. What will happen, a moderate Palestinian leadership having been replaced by Hamas through the failure to succeed in negotiations, is that Hamas, as the respected former Israeli Government adviser Daniel Levy has suggested, could soon be replaced by ISIS in Gaza. We have to start, as the west, speaking the truth, acting and persuading the Israeli Government to negotiate seriously.

The Prime Minister: As a friend of Israel—the right hon. Gentleman said that he is one too—I think we should always speak the truth, and I always have done with Israel, for instance in the case of illegal settlements. But I think another element of the truth is that if Hamas stopped the rocket attacks on Israel, the Israeli operation in Gaza would end and there would be a ceasefire. The point that the Israeli Prime Minister makes, which I think is a legitimate one, is that there have been a number of occasions when he has unilaterally declared or agreed to a ceasefire, but Hamas will not follow suit. I absolutely agree that we need to speak the truth, but the truth must start with an end to these attacks.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE SAYS HAIN

Neath MP Peter Hain has today launched a scathing attack on the Lib Dem-Tory Government after embarrassing revelations for Ministers regarding the maligned Bedroom Tax.

The former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said: “quite frankly it reminds me of the omnishambles budget from 2012, both parts of the government are so out of touch of the realities on the ground, especially in places like Neath it is bordering on negligence.”

Mr Hain was commenting on yesterday’s news that the Liberal Democrats have reversed their support for the Spare Room Subsidy, commonly referred to as the Bed Room tax.

He said: “This is a shocking and mercenary decision which is motivated purely by political calculation. I am glad that they are doing the right thing and seeing the sense in what Labour has been saying for months, but they are not fooling anybody in Neath.”

On Tuesday the Department for Work and Pensions published an independent report by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research and Ipsos Mori which clearly documented the devastating effect the changes to the Spare Room Subsidy had on welfare claimants.

At one point it stated: “Tenants’ groups interviewed expressed concern about the welfare of people who were paying for the shortfall, reporting that some were going without food, not heating their homes, and becoming socially isolated.”

Mr Hain continued, “I read the report and was in a state of disbelief at times, the way this one change has affected people is terrible, 45% of those who have been impacted on by the Bedroom Tax had lived in their houses for over a decade, 68% that at least one individual in the house was disabled.”

“The entire episode has been wholly regrettable, this U-Turn by the Lib Dems is rubbing salt in the wounds of people who have been forced to choose between heating or eating by the callous coalition.”

“On top of this yesterday we saw the Prime Minister being bullish about the economy during Prime Minister’s Questions, but the truth is in places like Neath people are not feeling the benefits of the recovery.”

“Since 2010 people in Neath Port Talbot have seen their wages plummet from £489 per week, to £425 per week and now they still have not reached their 2010 levels. Never mind that our wages drag behind the rest of the UK.”

“All the while people have seen their real wages slowly eroded by rising inflation, this are some of the forces my constituents are contending with on a daily basis as they fight for their living standards.”

-ENDS –

European Council Summit

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Why is losing in Brussels always such a magnificent victory to the Prime Minister and his Back Benchers?

The Prime Minister: I always prefer it when we succeed in, for instance, cutting the EU budget or reinforcing the need for deregulation, but what matters—and the right hon. Gentleman, as a former Europe Minister, should know this—is that there are times when it is important to stand up for a principle and not to give in, no matter what the pressure may be. It does not matter how many countries were ranged against me. I think that Jean-Claude Juncker was the wrong candidate, I think that it was the wrong principle, and there are times when you should stick to your guns.

Miners Strike ‘Truth Must Be Out’ Says Hain

Neath MP Peter Hain has demanded that the Government ‘come clean’ on the truth behind the year long miners’ strike. ‘The truth must be out’ he demanded.

Newly released 1984 official Government papers have revealed the true scale of the attack on ordinary miners and their families in South Wales valley communities by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, claims Mr Hain.

‘It was confirmed that, despite denials, at the time there was a secret plan to close 75 pits at the cost of some 65,000 jobs, that the Conservative government sought to influence police tactics to escalate the dispute and Mrs Thatcher even actively considered declaring a state of emergency and deploying the army to defeat the miners, their families and the unions,’ he said.

‘We now know the miners’ strike was not simply an industrial dispute but – as many of us thought at the time – the consequence of government policy driven by an economic ideology which sought the destruction of a way of life in coal communities in our Valleys.

He backed Labour’s campaign, ‘Justice for the Coalfields’, calling on the Government to do three things:

Make a formal apology for the actions of the previous Conservative Government during the time of the strike

Set out all details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time of the strike

Release all information about government-police communications specifically around the orchestrated police attack on striking miners at Orgreave pit in Yorkshire, with a proper investigation