Pontypridd MP Owen Smith becomes shadow Welsh secretary

Owen Smith said his new job was a "crucial" one and that Wales' voice needed to be heard in Westminster

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Owen Smith has been appointed Labour's shadow Welsh secretary, just two years after being elected to Parliament.

The Pontypridd MP said he wanted to build a "new partnership" between Wales and Westminster.

Labour leader Ed Miliband described Mr Smith, 42, as a "real talent".

He leaves the party's shadow Treasury team, where he played a role in attacking the Westminster coalition's policies on the economy and public spending.

The appointment follows the resignation of Neath MP Peter Hain from Labour's frontbench on Monday.

Mr Hain quit the shadow cabinet to campaign for a proposed multibillion-pound barrage across the Severn estuary.

Before becoming an MP in 2010 Mr Smith was a BBC journalist, a UK government special adviser and a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

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When Ed Miliband appointed me he was very clear: my top priority is to work with First Minister Carwyn Jones to help bring new ideas, new jobs and opportunities to Wales”

End Quote Owen Smith MP Shadow Welsh secretary

He was Labour's election campaign manager at last year's Welsh assembly elections, and recently launched a bid to bring regional rugby back to the south Wales valleys.

Mr Smith said: "We need to build a new partnership between Wales and Westminster, to create an economy that delivers opportunities and better living standards for all of the people of Wales."

The Labour Welsh government was "working every day to deliver a brighter future for families in Wales", he said.

He added: "I want to play my part in that vital task and to help revitalise our Welsh economy and Welsh communities.

"When Ed Miliband appointed me he was very clear: my top priority is to work with First Minister Carwyn Jones to help bring new ideas, new jobs and opportunities to Wales.

"It's the biggest challenge facing Wales today."

Mini-reshuffle

He accused Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan of failing to speak up for Wales in the UK government, and paid tribute to Mr Hain as a "friend and mentor".

Mr Hain's resignation forced a mini-reshuffle. Jon Cruddas will co-ordinate Labour's policy review, Angela Eagle will be recommended as chair of the national policy forum and Andrew Adonis will advise on industrial policy.

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There are many challenges affecting Wales which lie ahead and which can be best solved together”

End Quote Cheryl Gillan MP Welsh Secretary

Mr Miliband said he was delighted to welcome the new members of his frontbench team.

"Owen Smith has shown himself to be a real talent and I welcome him to the post of shadow Welsh secretary," he said.

Mr Jones said Mr Smith had made a huge impact on Welsh politics and he was impressed by his "formidable campaigning skills".

"His experience as a former special adviser at the Wales Office will stand him in good stead for the job ahead - particularly in holding the UK government to account," he said.

"I look forward to working with Owen, to ensure he becomes the next Labour secretary of state for Wales."

Mrs Gillan said: "I congratulate Owen Smith on his appointment as shadow secretary of state, and I look forward to working constructively with him in the interests of Wales.

"There are many challenges affecting Wales which lie ahead and which can be best solved together, just as I sought to do with his predecessor and continue to aspire to do in our relations with the Welsh government."

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