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Saturday, 8 December, 2001, 16:27 GMT
Tributes to 'valued ally'
Sir Ray Powell
Sir Ray Powell led a distinguished Commons career
Senior politicians have paid tribute to veteran Labour MP Sir Ray Powell, who has died at the age of 73.

Sir Ray was elected to the Ogmore seat in 1979 and became known in the House of Commons as a formidable Labour whip.
Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan: 'Very sad loss'

He was also close to his constituency roots in Ogmore, where his daughter Janice Gregory is the Assembly Member.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sir Ray had been an excellent MP and would be greatly missed.

"He was a servant of the people of his constituency and a champion of the Valleys.

"He was a long-standing and loyal member of the Labour Party," added Mr Blair.

Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan was among the first to extend his condolences.

"This is a very sad loss and my sympathies go to his wife Marion and family," said Mr Morgan.

"When I first came to the Commons we were travelling companions between London and Wales."

'Doughty fighter'

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy paid tribute to a "distinguished parliamentarian" who held much respect on all sides of the Commons.

"Ray was a doughty fighter on behalf of his constituents and was a valued ally in political debate," said Mr Murphy.

"During his 22 years in the Commons he gave magnificent service as a whip, a member of various select committees and a secretary of the Welsh group of MPs.

"I know he was particularly proud that his daughter Janice Gregory followed him in his love of politics and as an Assembly member."
LLew Smith MP
Llew Smith MP: Long-term friend

Wales Labour Party General Secretary Jessica Morden said: "He was a loyal servant of the Labour Party over many years and he will be sadly missed."

He will also be remembered at a grass roots level by constituents, where he championed local issues, including pensioners and manufacturing workers.

The Ogmore constituency has one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Wales.

'Larger than life'

Blaenau Gwent MP Llew Smith, a long-term friend, said: "He was a good comrade of mine. Each day we would share not just a pot of tea, but laughter, gossip and politics.

"He didn't spend his time arguing whether he was Old or New Labour. He just regarded himself as Labour and tried to apply the ideas that attracted generations of people to the Labour movement.

Shadow Welsh secretary Nigel Evans said: "(Sir) Ray was always larger than life and very much an integral part of Welsh politics at all levels over many years.

'Old Labour idealist

"He was a Parliamentarian through and through and indeed refused an opportunity to go to the House of Lords, preferring to carry on serving his constituents of Ogmore."

Lembit Opik, leader of Welsh Liberal Democrat MPs, said: "Ray was a pure, unreconstructed Old Labour idealist to the core.

"No-one could question his belief in the need for politicians to make a stand.

"While the Powell dynasty lives on in the Welsh Assembly, Ray himself was one of a kind.

"His unique brand of politics will be missed amongst those of us who still believe there is space for true grit in British politics."

See also:

08 Dec 01 | Wales
Veteran Labour MP dies
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