Wales

Plaid peer Dafydd Wigley to champion disability rights

Dafydd Wigley promised to be a champion for disability rights as he took up his seat in the House of Lords.

The former Plaid Cymru leader, who took his oath of allegiance in Welsh and English, is Baron Wigley of Caernarfon.

The former MP and AM said his priority would be "how we can improve life for this significant percentage of the Welsh population".

He will also campaign for a fully-elected House of Lords, and speak up on Welsh economy matters.

He was made a life peer in November, alongside retiring Lib Dem AM Jenny Randerson, and former Labour MEP Eluned Morgan.

He was MP for Caernarfon from 1974 and 2001 and an AM in the Welsh assembly's first term from 1999.

He has joined Plaid peer Lord Elis-Thomas - the Welsh assembly's presiding officer - in the Lords. Lord Elis-Thomas was one of his sponsors with cross-bencher Lord Faulkner of Worcester.

Baron Wigley has a long record of campaigning on disability issues, including lobbying to ensure that access to polling stations were included in the Disability Discrimination Bill, and with fellow Plaid MPs, securing a compensation settlement for miners with lung disease.

He was sponsor of the 1981 Disabled Persons Act and campaign manager for the 1986 Act, and vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Disability Group for ten years.

Baron Wigley said he had "no interest in the pomp and ceremony of the Lords" but that he did "want to work hard for Wales here."

He referred to the recent dispute between Westminster and Cardiff Bay over the bid to introduce separate organ donation laws for Wales.

'Watchful eye'

"The fiasco with the vital organ donor opt-out proposals recently is an example of why we need voices in both chambers.

"It should not be possible for an unelected chamber in Westminster to veto the policies of the elected government of Wales.

"I'll keep a watchful eye on the progress of Welsh legislative bids during my time here and also to speak up on issues relating to the Welsh economy and the National Assembly's financial settlement.

He added: "As the first ever peer to be elected by a party's own membership, I hope that a fully elected second chamber will become a long awaited reality and while I'm here I will continue to campaign to see a reform of this place.

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