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Tuesday, October 27, 1998 Published at 18:15 GMT

UK Politics

Alun Michael: The new Welsh Secretary

Alun Michael: He gains from Ron Davies' misfortune

Immediately after announcing Ron Davies' resignation as Welsh Secretary, Downing Street revealed Alun Michael would take his place.

Alun Michael says he is "honoured" at becoming Welsh Secretary
He told the BBC he did not want to say any more about Mr Davies' situation other than it was "tragic for him and his family" and that he was sad at the circumstances.

He said he was honoured at being asked to take over the position and that the Welsh Assembly would make a difference to the lives of the people of Wales.

Alun Michael says the Welsh Assembly will change the lives of people in Wales (in Welsh)
Mr Michael, the MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, was until now a Home Office minister.

He had previously held the position of Opposition Spokesman on Welsh Affairs for four years until 1992.

Mr Michael was born in north Wales in 1943, the son of a shopkeeper, and moved to Cardiff 21 years later to work on the South Wales Echo newspaper.

[ image: His appointment was announced straight after the resignation]
His appointment was announced straight after the resignation
He entered Parliament after winning Jim Callaghan's old seat and doubling the majority in June 1987.

Unlike Mr Davies, he has been a long-time advocate of Welsh devolution and supported a Welsh Parliament the following year.

In the Commons, he earned a reputation as a thoughtful, soft-spoken speaker whose outside passions include hill walking and long-distance running.

In 1988, he won substantial damages from The News of the World after it accused him of being out drinking when he was actually at an NHS debate as a Whip and teller.

After joining the Home Office, Mr Michael followed Home Secretary Jack Straw in taking a tough line on burglars and paedophiles.

But he also called on the police to be more open about deaths in custody and warned of the "growing suspicion and mistrust" between officers and the black community in light of the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry.

He urged the House of Lords not to vote against reducing the gay age of consent from 18 to 16.

Mr Michael and his wife Mary have two sons and three daughers.

He is replaced at the Home Office by Paul Boateng, who was previously a junior minister in the Department of Health.

John Hutton, MP for Barrow and Furness, is promoted from his post as parliamentary private secretary to Commons Leader Margaret Beckett to take over from Mr Boateng.

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