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Business Before Questions

Volume 654: debated on Monday 18 February 2019

Death of a Member

It is with great sadness that I have to inform the House of the death of the hon. Member for Newport West, Paul Flynn. A dedicated, principled, fearless and award-winning parliamentarian, Paul represented and championed the Newport West constituency and the wider interests, as he saw them, of Wales for 31 and a half years in this House. From drugs policy to pensions, from animal welfare to Europe, from parliamentary reform to the war in Afghanistan, Paul Flynn spoke with conviction, with total commitment and without fear or favour. He was every inch the exemplar parliamentarian whom he strove over three decades to be.

As many colleagues will know, Paul spent the vast majority of his career as a Back Bencher. I often teased him, affectionately and with respect, about that well-thumbed tome that he penned, “Commons Knowledge: How to be a Backbencher”. He was a fine parliamentarian, a dedicated socialist, and much loved in his constituency and beyond.

I hope that I speak for the House, in concluding my tribute to that very fine man, to whom I last spoke on Saturday 26 January, when I say this. Paul Flynn was a standing rebuke in his parliamentary service to two categories of people. The first are those who think that the only point of coming into politics is to become Prime Minister or a Minister—at the very least that shows a lack of imagination. Paul knew that there were so many other ways in which you could achieve real gains and derive fulfilment.

Secondly—I am sure that there are people on both sides of the House, who sit in certain positions, who will recognise the veracity of what I am about to say—Paul was a standing rebuke to those who thought that it was vital always to be in the closest possible regulatory alignment with one’s Whips Office. It was not. He spoke his mind. He did it his way. He did it with eloquence, with knowledge, with character, and often, as we all know, with mordent wit.

Paul will be greatly missed by his wife of the last 34 years, Sam, and by the wider family. We respectfully remember him, and I hope we always will.