Former Labour Cabinet and Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain has backed action by the British military to prevent Islamic State genocide against Iraq minorities and protect the Kurds.

 Mr Hain, who last year helped lead parliamentary opposition to British military strikes in Syria said:

“The genocidal attacks by Islamic State are in the same category as Kosovo 1999 and Sierra Leone 2000. Quite different to being propelled into the quagmire of a Syrian civil war.”

“Although I do not support British soldiers fighting on the ground, we have to do everything else we can to provide the Kurds with the equipment they need to repel attacks and to stop ISIS and its medieval barbarism.”

“I believe the British public will support such an essentially humanitarian mission and if the Prime Minister consults other Party leaders there will be no need to recall Parliament. We need urgent commonsense action not Parliamentary grandstanding.”


Global Health

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Streeter—it is a delight to see you in the Chair. Like others, I congratulate the hon. Member for St Ives (Andrew George) on securing the debate and on the work that he, along with others in the room, has done with the all-party group on global tuberculosis, of which I am a member.

As I declared in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, I visited South Africa in February 2012 with the charity Results UK, which does such important work on one of the most important questions in global health today: how do we move from struggling to control the world’s deadliest diseases to eliminating them? We can control diseases such as TB and HIV, but they continue to represent a terrible burden on individuals, families and communities across the world. In the 90 minutes of this debate, nearly 500 people will lose their lives from just those two diseases.

I am the chair of trustees of a remarkable charitable organisation called the Donald Woods Foundation, in Nelson Mandela’s impoverished homeland of the Transkei, in the Eastern Cape, in South Africa, where it is battling to control the twin epidemics of TB and HIV and to strengthen health services in remote, rural communities. It works closely with the South African Department of Health, and it has screened 150,000 people for TB. It also has nearly 10,000 people on HIV treatment, and it supports outreach to those who would otherwise not be reached. In addition, it has pioneered clinic design for infection control and TB testing.

Despite the huge and highly commendable efforts of the South African Government and of civil society organisations such as the DWF, South Africa continues to battle enormous health challenges, one of the most significant of which is drug-resistant TB. In one small sub-district last year, the DWF reported 49 cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. XDR-TB has evolved to be resistant to our best drugs, and the few treatments that remain are old, toxic and associated with terrible side effects. Treatment success with XDR-TB and multidrug-resistant TB—MDR-TB—is rare. The drugs involved, taken over years with daily injections, steadily destroy quality of life, often leaving patients with permanent disabilities. The burden of treatment is so heavy that many patients choose to default—to give up—and they discharge themselves from hospital rather than continue with what are, essentially, useless drugs that are causing them pain.

I have met people with XDR and MDR in South Africa, and their examples are tragic. I remember the story of a girl who had been confined in a hospital ward for more than two years. The drugs made her physically sick practically every day, she was losing her hearing because of them and her liver was being destroyed by the disease—TB ruined her life. Before the disease, she was doing well in school, and she had a bright career ahead of her, as well as close friends and a good family, but then the disease struck. Eventually, I am sorry to say, she discharged herself from hospital, knowing that, in doing so, she was most likely surrendering her chances of surviving. She returned to her family home, but it was empty—both her parents had died from the same disease. Soon, she also passed away—pale, sick, deaf and alone.

Sadly, that is not an isolated story. South Africa has the highest rate of TB in the world, and behind the statistics are thousands of tragic, grim stories. The worst cases are in gold mining. The deep gold mines are a source of a tremendously lethal form of TB, with all the consequences that brings.

Progress is being made against TB and HIV, but it is far too slow. The diseases continue to ravage health systems across southern Africa. Only 2% of South Africa’s TB burden is drug resistant, although that number is increasing, but that 2% accounts for fully 32% of the national budget for tackling TB.

Our weapons against these diseases are becoming less effective with every passing day, and I am struck by the similarities between drug-resistant TB and antimicrobial resistance, which was such a topic for conversation last week, with the Prime Minister launching his own special commission. We need new drugs that the TB bacteria have not already encountered, and we need a vaccine that kills or prevents infection so that resistance never gets the chance to develop. We need to remember that we have TB here in the UK and that a small but growing percentage of cases in the UK are drug resistant.

When drugs are developed, they must be affordable. Of course, commercial sector organisations must generate a profit, and developing a new drug can cost hundreds of millions of pounds and take years of sustained effort and research. None the less, while we want to find a way to unlock a new generation of drugs for diseases such as TB, we must not find ourselves in a situation where the poorest people cannot afford treatment or where the cost of buying drugs cripples local health services in poor countries.

What is required, then, is an alternative model—one that separates the requirement to generate a profit from the direction of research and that separates the cost of research from the price of the final product. Such a model, which is often described as de-linked, is the only way we will be able to encourage research and development for diseases for which there are no significant financial markets and to ensure that the products that are developed are accessibly priced. Will the Minister therefore commission a report examining the costs and implications of commercially driven development, as against de-linked development models, and use the findings to make the case to other Governments? Perhaps he could respond to that request in his reply.

We know that the system is not working; we know that the imperative to act and to find solutions to these problems is as strong as ever, and we know that the challenge of correcting market failure will dictate the future of efforts to control humankind’s deadliest infectious killers, yet we are no closer to breaking the deadlock. For the sake of the world’s poorest, our own national health service and, ultimately, our health in this country—these diseases are very infectious—I ask that DFID champion alternative, non-commercial models of development and thus help to develop the new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics that will help us to see the end of TB, HIV and malaria in our lifetimes.

Wales Bill – It Cannot Be Right For Losers To Become Winners Through The Back Door

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I, too, wish to speak in favour of amendment 13 and against clause 2 remaining in the Bill. The Secretary of State and other Members who have taken part in our proceedings on the Bill might recognise some of my comments from my single transferable vote speech on dual candidature, because I remain firmly opposed to that abuse of democracy. However, I will be brief, because my favourite premiership player, Frank Lampard, is captaining England at 5 o’clock, and I know that even Members from Welsh constituencies, with the possible exception of our Plaid Cymru friends, will want to cheer them on in their final game.

I repeat my basic argument, which I have expressed throughout the Bill’s proceedings, and the rationale for my ban on dual candidature in the 2006 Act: it cannot be right for losers to become winners through the back door, despite having been rejected by the voters. That is an abuse of democracy. People who stand for a single-Member seat and then lose can end up being elected anyway, in defiance of the electorate’s wishes, because at the same time they are in a list category, and that is an abuse of democracy. There is no real argument against losers becoming winners in that way.

There was a widespread abuse practised by 15 of the 20 list AMs prior to the 2006 ban. They used taxpayers’ money to open constituency offices in the very single-Member seats in which they were defeated. They then targeted those seats at the following election by cherry-picking local issues against the constituency AMs who had beaten them. Why are they so afraid of taking their choice to the people, and why are the Government so afraid of democracy? Why are they so afraid of losing constituency elections that they need the lifebelt of standing for the lists as well? That is what the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood, for whom I have considerable admiration despite all that, is doing in Rhondda. In a leaked memorandum written in August 2003, she was refreshingly honest about promoting abuse of the dual candidature system by list Members using taxpayers’ money.
With the 2006 Act ban having been removed by the Government, there is nothing to stop such abuse being practised again. I suspect that Leanne Wood may need to reissue her guidance. Perhaps she could pass it round to all the political parties in Wales so that Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and the UK Independence party can exploit the system together instead of leaving it to Plaid Cymru. Indeed, perhaps the Secretary of State could issue the document from the Wales Office so that it has the official approval he presumably wants in changing the law as he now intends, despite the strength of the arguments against it, because it is really a bible for the dual candidature that he and the Government are so enthusiastically preaching and want to restore following the 2006 ban in the wake of these serial abuses. I remind him, and the House, of just how valuable that guide could be for all the political parties. If the political system is to be brought into disrepute by the restoration of dual candidature and the ending of the ban following the serial abuses, why cannot all parties take part and make sure that the decline in respect of Assembly elections is endemic in the system, given that that is what he is encouraging?

Leanne Wood urged Plaid Cymru list Assembly Members to concentrate tens of thousands of pounds of their local office budgets, paid for by taxpayers, on their party’s target seats. She urged them to do casework only where it might benefit Plaid Cymru in those target seats, and to attend civic and other events in the constituency only if they thought that there were votes in it.

There has been a deafening silence from Ministers about this bible for dual candidature, so I will repeat its essential contents in case they have not memorised my two previous speeches on the subject. Leanne Wood’s memorandum, “What should be the role of a Regional AM?”, perfectly illustrates the problem that we faced before the 2006 Act banned dual candidature in Wales. She should be praised for her honesty—indeed, her transparency. She wrote:
“Each regional AM has an office budget and a staff budget of some considerable size. Consideration should be given to the location of their office—where would it be best for the region? Are there any target seats…within the region?”

She meant, of course, single Member target seats.

David Williamson: Peter Hain was a big beast from Wales – will Westminster see his like again?

By David Williamson 

The Neath MP has never known a quiet life – and he is not about to retreat from the public stage now.

There was an echo of Tony Benn when Peter Hain last week announced he was to leave the House of Commons where he has served as MP for Neath since 1991.

Just as the late Labour left-winger announced his own departure from parliament on the grounds he planned to “spend more time on politics”, Mr Hain made it very clear that he has no intention of stepping off the public stage. This is not a bowing-out act but the transition to a new act.

Using Twitter, he said he was “moving on to remain active in politics, campaigning for justice, freedom, equality, democracy”.

This will not be the second act in 64-year-old Mr Hain’s career but at least the third. As the 19-year-old chairman of the Stop the Seventy Tour he sprang to national attention as a vociferous anti-apartheid campaigner who disrupted the all-white Springbok rugby tour of Britain. The cancellation of that year’s cricket tour was a major victory which cemented his reputation as a young South African ready to rock the establishment.

Mr Hain has never displayed any inclination towards a quiet life, although that was never an option for him.

His parents received “banning orders” from the South African regime as a result of their anti-apartheid activities and took the family to Britain only when it became impossible to earn a living in their homeland. Due to his own campaigning, Mr Hain was sent a letter bomb and the UK Government put him under surveillance.

He was a founder member of the Anti-Nazi League in 1977, a move which cemented his status as an enemy of the British far right. The UK had no shortage of radical left-wing parties at this time but Mr Hain switched his allegiance from the Young Liberals, where he had been president, to Labour.

A job as head of research at the Union of Communication Workers immersed him in the world of Britain’s trade unions and his victory in the 1991 Neath by-election ensured he would put down roots in Labour’s Welsh heartlands. Many of Labour’s rising stars gravitated to seats in the former industrial heartlands at this time but the move proved particularly meaningful for Mr Hain, who has embraced a political identity as a “libertarian socialist”.

In his statement last week he made it clear we should not expect to see a “for sale” sign anytime soon at his Aberdulais home.

He wrote of his constituents: “They warmly welcomed me as an outsider, and members of my family subsequently moved to the Neath Valley where I will remain living after I have stepped down and continue to support Labour in our mission to build a better Neath.”

In Government, he would serve as Welsh Secretary, play a central role in securing a Yes vote in the 1997 Assembly referendum and lay the legislative foundation for the 2011 public vote on primary law-making powers.

His wife, Elizabeth Haywood, is one of the highest-profile figures in Wales’ business community as a former chair of CBI Wales and a Welsh Woman of the Year winner.

Critics may wish more powers had come the Assembly’s way while he was at the helm, and the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition came the closest to splitting in 2009 when a joint-statement by Mr Hain and First Minister Rhodri Morgan signalled their party would not start consulting on the All Wales Convention’s referendum recommendations until after the 2010 election. Ahead of the 2007 election he insisted there was “no prospect” of Labour doing a deal with Plaid and in February 2011 he urged his party to “kick the nationalists out of government”.

Nevertheless, Mr Hain was on the stage at the Welsh College of Music and Drama that night in 1997 when the victory for the Yes campaign was announced. He speaks with pride of delivering devolution and – from his perspective as a Labour MP with Scots about to vote on independence in less than 100 days – he may well feel he was justified in his concerns about the entry of nationalists to government.

But one of the most striking aspects of his parliamentary career is how he was both intimately involved in Wales’s constitutional evolution and yet played a role on the frontline of Westminster politics.

Today, ambitious young Welsh politicians face the choice between fighting for a seat in an Assembly in which they will not have a say on international affairs, defence and, for the time being, welfare, or seeking to enter Westminster where they will not be able to vote on Wales’ health or education policies. It is interesting to ask where Aneurin Bevan would go if he was starting out today.

As a foreign minister and later a Work & Pensions Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons and Northern Ireland Secretary, Mr Hain was a big beast from Wales. When he brought Sinn Fein and the DUP together in government jaws dropped around the world – his intimate knowledge of a nation other than England can only have helped him in this role.

UK politics will be diminished if we do not see his like again but the man himself is not preparing to escape the spotlight. Rather, a new adventure may be about to begin.

Full article here:

Statement from Labour Leader, Rt. Hon Ed Miliband MP

Following the announcement by Peter Hain to stand down at the next General Election, Labour Leader Ed Miliband said, ‘A political activist and campaigner for over fifty years Peter Hain is one of the most experienced politicians in the House of Commons in which he has served as Member for Neath for nearly a quarter of a century. It goes without saying that his integrity, wisdom and firmness in speaking up for those least empowered to speak for themselves, will all be sorely missed. Whether on the backbenches, the front bench or in the Cabinet he has served the Labour Party and the country tirelessly.

‘He served with great distinction as Secretary of State for Wales, for Work and Pensions and as Leader of the Commons but it was as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that Peter will be most missed, negotiating the historic peace settlement establishing devolved government in North Ireland.

‘Whilst I will miss his personal friendship and humour on the green benches, and he will be greatly missed by the people of Neath, I know he will continue to serve our party and the country and remain actively engaged in politics and public life for many years to come.’