Paul Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen

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The Lord Murphy of Torfaen
Official portrait of Lord Murphy of Torfaen 2020 crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
24 January 2008 – 5 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byPeter Hain
Succeeded byPeter Hain
In office
28 July 1999 – 24 October 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byAlun Michael
Succeeded byPeter Hain
Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee
In office
6 May 2005 – 24 January 2008
Preceded byAnn Taylor
Succeeded byMargaret Beckett
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
24 October 2002 – 6 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJohn Reid
Succeeded byPeter Hain
First Minister of Northern Ireland
as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
24 October 2002 – 6 May 2005
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJohn Reid
Succeeded byPeter Hain
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
20 October 2015
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Torfaen
In office
11 June 1987 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byLeo Abse
Succeeded byNick Thomas-Symonds
Personal details
Born (1948-11-25) 25 November 1948 (age 73)
Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales
Political partyLabour
Alma materOriel College, Oxford
WebsiteConstituency website

Paul Peter Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen, KCMCO, KSG, PC (born 25 November 1948) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Torfaen from 1987 to 2015, and served in the Cabinet from 1999 to 2005 and again from 2008 to 2009 in the roles of Northern Irish and Welsh Secretary. He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours.[1]


Paul Peter Murphy was born to Ronald and Marjorie (née Gough) Murphy.[2] He has a younger brother, Neil. Murphy's father, Ronald, was a miner of Irish descent.[3][4] The family was devoutly Catholic. His mother, Marjorie (née Gough), was English, and her family were businesspeople.[5]

Paul Murphy attended St Francis Roman Catholic School, Abersychan and West Monmouth School, Pontypool. He later attended Oriel College, Oxford to study history.[6] He was a management trainee with the CWS, before becoming a lecturer in Government and History at Ebbw Vale College of Further Education, now part of Coleg Gwent. He has never married. Murphy once said in an interview "I have so many books, there's only enough room for me".[7]

Early political career[edit]

Murphy joined the Labour Party at age 15, and is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union. He was Secretary of the Pontypool/Torfaen Constituency Labour Party from 1971 to 1987. He was a member of Torfaen Council from 1973 to 1987 and was chair of its finance committee from 1976 to 1986. He contested Wells Constituency in Somerset in the 1979 General Election.

Senior Cabinet posts[edit]

He was MP for Torfaen, Wales from the 1987 election. In opposition he served as a foreign affairs spokesperson and then in defence as navy spokesperson.

Following the 1997 election Murphy was appointed to the position of Minister of State for Northern Ireland.

He joined the cabinet in July 1999 following his appointment as Secretary of State for Wales on 28 July 1999.[8] In 2002 he moved departments and became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a role in which he served until his dismissal in the reshuffle that followed the 2005 general election when he became chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. He also served as the British chair of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body and an executive committee member of the British-American Parliamentary Group.

Following the resignation of Peter Hain from the cabinet on 24 January 2008, he was again appointed Secretary of State for Wales [9] he was also given the job of chairing a new Cabinet Committee on the sensitive issue of IT and information security, in the wake of a rash of scandals surrounding the loss of personal data by Government agencies. In April 2008 he was appointed as the Government's Minister for Digital Inclusion. Prior to joining the Cabinet he was Minister of State for political development in the Northern Ireland Office from 1997 to 1999 – acting as Mo Mowlam's deputy – and was largely responsible for negotiating the so-called strand two ('North-South' or 'Island of Ireland') arrangements agreed in the Good Friday Agreement.

He left the cabinet in 2009 when he was replaced as Welsh Secretary by Peter Hain following Hain's clearance[10][11] following an investigation into election donations.

In 2013, Murphy wrote a report on the lack of success of applicants to Oxbridge universities from Welsh state schools.[12] The report suggested the creation of the Seren Network, a set of regional hubs to link schools to top universities.[13]

Voting record[edit]

In 1979 Murphy was a fierce opponent of devolution.[14] Murphy recently said "I have been trying to work out whether or not I am a devo-sceptic and I have come to the conclusion that I am not. In 1978, I was a devo-opponent, and in 1997 I voted for devolution. My constituents agreed with me in 1978, but they did not agree with me in 1997, because they voted against a Welsh Assembly on both occasions. However, I would rather describe myself as a devo-realist, in the sense that what is here is here. I am not all that keen on a coalition in Cardiff, but we are where we are, and we have to work in the current political climate for the benefit of the people whom we represent, whether we are members of parliament, Assembly Members or members of local authorities".[15]

In a free parliamentary vote on 20 May 2008, Murphy voted for cutting the upper limit for abortions from 24 to 12 weeks, along with two other Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly and Des Browne.[16] In 2013, he became one of the few Labour MPs to vote against the bill that legalised same-sex marriage in England and Wales, which was eventually passed with cross-party support.[17]

Parliamentary expenses[edit]

Murphy was subject to criticism over his expenses claims, revealed by the Daily Telegraph during the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal. Most notable of these was his £3,419.25 claim to have a new boiler installed in his Westminster house, stating that the previous one was a hazard as "The hot water was far too hot".[18]

Other claims submitted by Paul Murphy relate to purchases of a toilet roll holder, new carpeting and a television, as well as mortgage payments and stamp duty.[19][20] Murphy was ordered to repay some of the money improperly "claimed back" in the amount of £2,237.72 in cleaning costs, mortgage payments and a wardrobe that exceeded the guideline price.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Murphy was created a life peer taking the title Baron Murphy of Torfaen, of Abersychan in the County of Gwent on 20 October 2015.[22]

He is a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club.


  1. ^ "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  2. ^ Name: MURPHY, Paul/Registration district: Pontypool
    County: Monmouthshire/Year of registration: 1948/Quarter of registration: Oct-Nov-Dec/Mother's maiden name: Gough/Volume 8C /Page # 416
  3. ^ "Welcome -". Archived from the original on 21 July 2009.
  4. ^ "BBC NEWS - VOTE2001 - WALES - Murphy keeps Welsh Secretary role".
  5. ^ "Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy MP". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  6. ^ "BBC News - UK - Oxbridge blues, and reds". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Welcome -". Archived from the original on 21 July 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Murphy confirmed as Welsh Secretary". BBC News. 28 July 1999. Retrieved 24 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Wales - Murphy returns as Welsh secretary". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  10. ^ "CPS decides no charges for Peter Hain MP". Crown Prosecution Service. 5 December 2008. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "Hain not charged over donations". BBC News. 5 December 2008. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  12. ^ Leonard, Kevin (18 April 2013). "Teachers 'lack Oxbridge ambition'". BBC News. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  13. ^ Feeney, Jack (17 March 2016). "Call for ambassadors to help shape the future of Wales' brightest students". walesonline. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  14. ^ "The Secret life of Paul Murphy. - Paul Flynn - Read My Day". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - UK Politics - MPs back 24-week abortion limit". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Labour and Lib Dem MPs who voted against gay marriage: full list". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  18. ^ Rosa Prince (8 May 2009). "Paul Murphy's plumbing bill because water was too hot: MPs' expenses". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "MPs' expenses". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  21. ^ "Legg blames parliament, MPs and the Speaker". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  22. ^ "No. 61390". The London Gazette. 26 October 2015. p. 20046.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Torfaen
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Preceded by Chairperson of the Intelligence and Security Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Murphy of Torfaen
Followed by
The Lord Livermore