Elfyn Llwyd

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The Right Honourable
Elfyn Llwyd
MP PC
Elfyn Llwyd.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Dwyfor Meirionnydd
Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (1992-2010)
Incumbent
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Dafydd Elis Thomas
Majority 6,367 (22.0%)
Personal details
Born (1951-09-26) 26 September 1951 (age 62)
Betws-y-Coed, Caernarfonshire, Wales
Nationality Welsh
Political party Plaid Cymru
Alma mater University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Occupation Barrister
Website Official website

Elfyn Llwyd, PC (born 26 September 1951) is a Welsh barrister and politician. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1992, representing Meirionnydd Nant Conwy in the House of Commons from 1992 to 2010 and Dwyfor Meirionnydd since 2010. Llwyd is Plaid Cymru's Westminster parliamentary group leader.

Biography[edit]

Born in Betws-y-Coed, Gwynedd, Wales, Llwyd was raised in Llanrwst and later went to University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Chester Law College.[1]

Llwyd worked as a solicitor and subsequently a barrister (called to the bar in 1997) before election to public office. Between 1990 and 1991 he served as President of the Gwynedd Law Society.[1] A fluent Welsh and English speaker,[2] Llwyd is married to Welsh folk singer Eleri Llwyd and they have two children. His hobbies include pigeon breeding, reading, travelling and rugby.[2]

On December 2013 Llwyd appeared on a special Christmas edition of BBC Two's University Challenge representing the University of Aberystwyth.[3]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Llwyd was first elected to the United Kingdom Parliament at the 1992, winning the Meirionnydd Nant Conwy constituency, being re-elected in 1997, 2001, and 2005. He took the newly configured Dwyfor Meirionnydd seat at the 2010 British general election with 44.3% of the vote, but there was a 7.3% swing from Plaid Cymru to the Conservatives.

He was appointed to the Privy Council on 9 February 2011.

Public service[edit]

Having been elected to public office, main political interests are home affairs, transport and agriculture.[2] Llwyd credits Saunders Lewis as having most influenced his political thinking[4]

Housing and language controversy[edit]

Controversy erupted in mid-winter 2001 when Seimon Glyn, Gwynedd County Council's housing committee chairman and Plaid Cymru member, voiced frustration over "English immigrants" moving into traditionally Welsh speaking communities.[5] Glyn was commenting on a report underscoring the dilemma of rocketing house prices outstripping what locals could pay, with the report warning that '...traditional Welsh communities could die out..." as a consequence.[6]

Much of the rural Welsh real estate market was driven by buyers looking for second homes for use as holiday homes, or for retirement. Many buyers were drawn to Wales from England because of relatively inexpensive house prices in Wales as compared to house prices in England.[7][8] The rise in home prices outpaced the average earnings income in Wales and meant that many local people could not afford to purchase their first home.[8]

In 2001 nearly a third of all properties in Gwynedd were bought by buyers from out of the county, and with some communities reporting as many as a third of local homes used as holiday homes.[9][10] Holiday home owners spend less than six months of the year in the local community.

The issue of locals being priced out of the local housing market is common to many rural communities throughout Britain, but in Wales the added dimension of language further complicated the issue, as many new residents did not learn the Welsh language.[9][11][12][13]

Concerned for the Welsh language under these pressures, Glyn said "Once you have more than 50% of anybody living in a community that speaks a foreign language, then you lose your indigenous tongue almost immediately".[14]

Plaid Cymru had long advocated controls on second homes, and a 2001 task force headed by David Wigley recommended land should be allocated for affordable local housing, and called for grants for locals to buy houses, and recommended council tax on holiday homes should double, following similar measures in the Scottish Highlands.[10][11][14]

However the Welsh Labour-Liberal Democrat Assembly coalition rebuffed these proposals, with Assembly housing spokesman Peter Black stating that "we [can not] frame our planning laws around the Welsh language", adding "Nor can we take punitive measures against second home owners in the way that they propose as these will have an impact on the value of the homes of local people".[14]

By autumn 2001 the Exmoor National Park authority in England began consideration to limit second home ownership there which was also driving up local housing prices by as much as 31%.[12] Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Group Leader, said that the issues in Exmoor National Park were the same as in Wales, however in Wales there is the added dimension of language and culture.[12]

Reflecting on the controversy Glyn's comments caused earlier in the year, Llwyd observed "What is interesting is of course it is fine for Exmoor to defend their community but in Wales when you try to say these things it is called racist..."[12]

Llwyd called on other parties to join in a debate to bring the Exmoor experience to Wales when he said "... I really do ask them and I plead with them to come around the table and talk about the Exmoor suggestion and see if we can now bring it into Wales".[12]

By spring 2002 both the Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Penfro) authorities began limiting second home ownership within the parks, following the example set by Exmoor.[15] According to planners in Snowdonia and Pembroke applicants for new homes must demonstrate a proven local need or the applicant had strong links with the area.

Impeach Blair campaign[edit]

Further information: Impeach Blair campaign

In August 2004 Llwyd joined Adam Price in a campaign to impeach then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair over the alleged misleading of the UK Parliament and for allegedly making a secret agreement with then US President George W. Bush to overthrow Saddam Hussein, amongst other charges.[16] Llwyd and then Scottish National Party (SNP) group leader Alex Salmond co-drafted the motion.

Impeachment had not been used in the UK for one hundred and fifty years. If successful, it could have seen Blair tried before the House of Lords; however, as expected, the measure failed.[16]

Llwyd had told the Guardian Unlimited that "leading the debate on the unlawfulness of the attack on Iraq - in particular opening a debate calling for the disclosure of the attorney general's opinion in full in March 2004," was his proudest moment.[4]

In November 2005, the campaign announced a new motion (this time with the support of the Liberal Democrats) asking for a Commons committee to examine the conduct of ministers before and after the war. The campaign tabled an Early Day Motion:

"Conduct of Government Policy in relation to the war against Iraq"
"That this House believes that there should be a select committee of 7 Members, being members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of Government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto, in the period leading up to military action in that country in March 2003 and in its aftermath".

The motion collected 151 signatures, including some Labour back-benchers.

By October 2006, Llwyd joined in a three hour debate on an inquiry into the Iraq War, the first such debate in over two years. The SNP and Plaid Cymru motion proposing a committee of seven senior MPs to review "the way in which the responsibilities of government were discharged in relation to Iraq", was defeated by 298 votes to 273, a Government majority of 25, but was supported by a significant number of opposition MPs, and twelve "rebel" Labour MPs, including Glenda Jackson.

Despite the lack of debate on the original impeachment motion, Llwyd, Price, and others pledged to continue the impeachment campaign. However, with the resignation of Blair on 27 June 2007, the entire issue of impeachment may now be moot.

Cash-for-Honours Scandal[edit]

In March 2007 Elfyn Llwyd was one of three individuals who made complaints about the Labour Government under section 1 of the Honours Act 1925 to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. The other complainants were Angus MacNeill MP (Scottish National Party) and an individual who remains unidentified to this day. These three complaints[17] led to a police investigation headed by Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who has since resigned over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The whole affair was dubbed by some in the media the Cash for Honours scandal.

2007 Welsh Assembly election spending controversy[edit]

Following the 2007 Welsh Assembly elections, a UK parliamentary standards and privileges committee found Plaid MPs Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams guilty of improperly advertising during the elections.[18] Though the committee admitted the three did not break any clear rules of the UK House of Commons, the committee believed the timing of the adverts were planned to coincide with the Assembly elections.[18]

Parliamentary funds are available for MPs to communicate with constituents regularly. However the committee found that the three used this communication allowance improperly as part of Plaid's campaigning during the elections as the adverts were placed in publications with a circulation outside of their respective constituentcies.[18]

Of the committee findings, Llwyd said that they would comply with the findings of the committee, but that they had "...acted in good faith throughout, and fully in line with the advice that was offered to us by the DFA (Department of Finance and Administration) at the time of the publication of the reports".[18] The three had to repay the money, about five thousand pounds each, and report the costs as part of Plaid's election spending.[18]

Peerage call[edit]

At the Llandudno party conference 2007, Llwyd encouraged the party to nominate peers into the House of Lords, citing that Plaid peers would "help ensure planned legislation for Wales was not blocked at Westminster", adding that many in the Lords may want to prevent full law-making powers for Wales.[19] In January 2011, Dafydd Wigley joined Lord Elis-Thomas in the House of Lords.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Elfyn Llwyd: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 April.  [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "Plaid Cymru website". 23 September 2007. 
  3. ^ "Episode 3: Christmas 2013". bbc.co.uk. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Elfyn Llwyd: Ask Aristotle". The Guardian (London). 4 April 2005. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Plaid bids to defuse 'racism' row". BBC Wales. 21 February 2001. 
  6. ^ "'Racist' remarks lost Plaid votes". BBC Wales. 3 September 2001. 
  7. ^ "Property prices in England and Wales". BBC News. 8 August 2001. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "House prices outpacing incomes". BBC News. 3 December 2001. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "Apology over 'insults' to English". BBC Wales. 3 September 2001. 
  10. ^ a b "Wales Plaid calls for second home controls". BBC Wales. 17 November 1999. 
  11. ^ a b "Double tax for holiday home owners". BBC News. 16 December 1999. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Controls on second homes reviewed". BBC News. 5 September 2001. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  13. ^ "Gwynedd considers holiday home curb". BBC News. 9 April 2002. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  14. ^ a b c "Plaid plan 'protects' rural areas". BBC Wales. 19 June 2001. 
  15. ^ "Park to ban new holiday homes". BBC News. 6 March 2002. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  16. ^ a b "Blair impeachment campaign starts". BBC News. 27 August 2004. 
  17. ^ "TIMELINE - Cash-for-honours investigation". Reuters. 20 July 2007. 
  18. ^ a b c d e "MPs' adverts broke election rules". BBC News. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  19. ^ "Wigley accepts Plaid peerage call". BBC News. 14 January 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2008. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dafydd Elis Thomas
Member of Parliament for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy
1992–2010
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Dwyfor Meirionnydd
2010–present
Incumbent