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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 April, 2004, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Former Lib Dem leader dies aged 79
Lord Geraint of Ponterwyd
Lord Geraint had been ill for some time
The former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Geraint Howells - Lord Geraint of Ponterwyd - has died, aged 79.

He was MP for Cardigan, then Ceredigion and Pembroke North, from 1974 to 1992.

Born in 1925, he went to school in Aberystwyth and began his working life as a farmer but was elected a member of Cardiganshire County Council in 1952.

During the Lib Lab pact in the 1970s, he was instrumental in persuading the then agriculture minister to recognise the Farmers' Union of Wales.

Known to his constituents simply as "Geraint," he was a politician with a style that focussed on the personal and the local, but he was also a passionate advocate of devolution and the Welsh language.

He had this amazing magical personality that attracted the voters, as well as being a fierce, vigorous advocate of the countryside
Mike German

He was always keen to promote the interest of farmers and the countryside and in the 1970s won recognition for the Farmers Union of Wales from the then Labour Government during its power-sharing with the Liberals.

He led the Welsh party through one of its more successful recent periods, when it had three MPs (it currently has two).

The Liberal Democrats' Assembly leader Mike German told BBC Wales: "He played a big part in winning those seats by bringing in the country vote.

"He had this amazing magical personality that attracted the voters, as well as being a fierce, vigorous advocate of the countryside.

"He was particularly passionate about keeping the traditional markets and was still writing to me about that when I was Minister for Rural Affairs."

The party's UK leader, Charles Kennedy, said he would "miss deeply this much treasured Celtic cousin".

"With Geraint's passing our party has lost a good and instrumental figure - and his beloved Wales has lost an authentic son of its soil," he added.

Rules in Welsh

Geraint Howells was ordained a Deacon of Ponterwyd Calvinistic Methodist Chapel and was a member of the Gorsedd of Bards.

One of his victories was in having the rules of behaviour for the public gallery in the House of Commons made available in Welsh.

Losing his seat to Plaid Cymru in 1992 was a shock, from which colleagues say he took time to recover.

But as Baron Geraint of Ponterwyd, which he became in 1992, he was an active member of the House of Lords.

He had been in poor health for some time.




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