I have been the Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon since 2001. My main Parliamentary interests include, steel, Human Rights, carers, disability, lifelong learning and local environmental issues.
Prior to being Aberavon’s MP I was Professor of Continuing Education at Swansea University where I was the founder of the South Wales Miners' Library and a prime-mover in the creation of the Community University of the Valleys for which I was awarded an honorary fellowship of the University in 2012. My main work was to provide part-time study opportunities for adults in the local community. I continue my links with the University as chair of its Richard Burton Advisory Board and the Coalfield Collections Advisory Committee.
I served as Special Policy Adviser to the Secretary of State for Wales Rt. Hon Paul Murphy MP in 1999-2000.
In my first Parliament I successfully sponsored the Carers Equal Opportunities Act 2004 and was a member of the Welsh Affairs Committee. I was elected the new Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee in July 2005. I was the chair of the All Party Steel and Cast Metal Group and I am currently the Vice-Chair of the All Party Carers Group. I have been made Vice-President of Carers UK and Honorary Parliamentary Patron of the adult learners’ body, NIACE.
I am actively involved in a wide range of organisations in my Constituency. I am President of Port Talbot Town Cricket Club, the South Wales Miners’ Museum, Briton Ferry Brunel Dock Regeneration Programme and the Port Talbot Epilepsy Support Group as well as Honorary Life Member of SNAC, The Port Talbot children’s disability club and Vice-President of Aberavon RFC.
My Early Day Motion on Carers and Flexible Working attracted the support of over 300 MPs, amongst the largest support of any EDM.
I have always taken an active part in all-Wales issues and I am Welsh speaking. I was made a member of the Gorsedd in 1986, was the chair of the Wales Congress in Support of Mining Communities in 1984-86 and national convenor of the Yes for Wales Campaign in 1997.
I am the founding chair of the Paul Robeson Wales Trust and a founder and trustee of the Bevan Foundation, an independent think-tank in Wales. I am also patron of the Josef Herman Foundation. I am involved in all these activities because I have a strong commitment to social justice and equality.
I was chosen ‘Campaigner of the Year’ for 2006 by ITV1 Wales for my work on behalf of carers and more recently received a Development Trust Association Award for supporting local community groups.
In the last Parliament I was Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee on which I led an inquiry on cross-border public services in Wales and the potential benefits of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. The committee published a major report on Globalisation and several other reports.
In the present Parliament I have been elected Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History and recently the All Party Parliamentary Group on Down’s Syndrome. The Joint Committee has already produced reports on Extradition, Policing Protest and Independent Living for Disabled People and the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people. It is currently engaged in an enquiry into legal aid reforms.
I delivered the Welsh Political Archive Annual Lecture in 2010 at the National Library of Wales.
Throughout my time as a Member of Parliament for Aberavon I have taken a keen interest in local historical projects including commemorating the life of Richard Burton in Cwmafan, Pontrhydyfen and Taibach and the regeneration of the Brunel Dock at Briton Ferry (for more information see the 'Current Issues' section on this website).
My current concerns are the rising level of unemployment (notably Tata redundancies and possible Remploy redundancies) and problems associated with benefit changes (particularly for the disabled and for children). I am examining carefully the Severn Barrage proposals. I am also engaged with assisting with the regeneration of the Afan Valley.
I have recently become Honorary Patron of Swansea University’s widening access strategy entitled Swansea Academy of Inclusivity and Learner Support (SAIL). Its objective is to raise awareness of the advantages of higher education in local schools and colleges: this is particularly appropriate with the opening of the Science and Innovation Campus 2015. In August I was appointed Honorary Professor in the History and Classics Department: in this new position I hope to build stronger links between my Constituency and with the University, particularly with schools, employers and community groups.