Paul Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Murphy of Torfaen
StPatrickWhiteHouse2005 cropped.jpg
Murphy (centre) with David Manning and George W. Bush at the White House for St. Patrick's Day (2005)
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
24 January 2008 – 5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Peter Hain
Succeeded by Peter Hain
In office
28 July 1999 – 24 October 2002
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Alun Michael
Succeeded by Peter Hain
Chairperson of the Intelligence and Security Committee
In office
6 May 2005 – 24 January 2008
Preceded by Ann Taylor
Succeeded by Margaret Beckett
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
24 October 2002 – 6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by John Reid
Succeeded by Peter Hain
Member of Parliament
for Torfaen
In office
11 June 1987 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Leo Abse
Succeeded by Nick Thomas-Symonds
Personal details
Born (1948-11-25) 25 November 1948 (age 70)
Usk, Wales
Political party Labour
Alma mater Oriel College, Oxford
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Constituency website

Paul Peter Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen KCMCO, KSG, PC (born 25 November 1948) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Torfaen from 1987 to 2015, and served in the Cabinet as both Northern Irish and Welsh Secretary. He previously held the position of Minister of State for Northern Ireland from February 1997 until 1999, when he was promoted to Secretary of State for Wales. He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours.[1]


Paul Peter Murphy was born to Ronald and Marjorie (née Gough) Murphy.[2] He has a younger brother, Neil. Murphy's father, Ronald, was a miner of Irish descent.[3][4] The family was devoutly Catholic. His mother, Marjorie (née Gough), was English, and her family were businesspeople.[5]

Paul Murphy attended St Francis Roman Catholic School, Abersychan and West Monmouth School, Pontypool. He later attended Oriel College, Oxford to study History.[6] He was a management trainee with the CWS, before becoming a lecturer in Government and History at Ebbw Vale College of Further Education, now part of Coleg Gwent. He has never married. Murphy once said in an interview "I have so many books, there's only enough room for me".[7]


Murphy was created a life peer taking the title Baron Murphy of Torfaen, of Abersychan in the County of Gwent on 20 October 2015.[8]

Early political career

Murphy joined the Labour Party at age 15, and is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union. He was Secretary of the Pontypool/Torfaen Constituency Labour Party from 1971–87. He was a member of Torfaen Council from 1973–87 and was Chair of its Finance Committee from 1976–86. He contested Wells Constituency in Somerset in the 1979 General Election.

Senior Cabinet posts

He has been MP for Torfaen, Wales since the 1987 election. In opposition he served as a foreign affairs spokesperson and then in defence as navy spokesperson. He has served twice as Secretary of State for Wales on 28 July 1999 to 24 October 2002[4][9] and again from 2008 to 2009.[10] He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 24 October 2002 to 5 May 2005. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1999.

He was succeeded by Peter Hain and left the government, becoming chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee in May 2005. He was also British Chair of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body and an Executive Committee member of the British-American Parliamentary Group.

He was re-appointed Secretary of State for Wales on 24 January 2008, following the resignation of Peter Hain. He was also given the job of chairing a new Cabinet Committee on the sensitive issue of IT and information security, in the wake of a rash of scandals surrounding the loss of personal data by Government agencies. In April 2008 he was appointed as the Government's Minister for Digital Inclusion. Prior to joining the Cabinet he was Minister of State for political development in the Northern Ireland Office from 1997 to 1999 – acting as Mo Mowlam's deputy – and was largely responsible for negotiating the so-called strand two ('North-South' or 'Island of Ireland') arrangements agreed in the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2009 Murphy failed to secure his place in the reshuffle. Murphy was replaced with Peter Hain. It has never been made public why Murphy was replaced. David Davies, MP for Monmouth once said: "Paul Murphy is clearly a very experienced member of parliament and whilst I and my colleagues will disagree with his policies and his government's policies and will certainly take him to task for that, he's a man who is, I think I probably can say, is widely respected on all sides of the House of Commons." (After hearing Murphy had been asked to become Secretary of State for Wales.)[10]

Voting record

In 1979 Murphy was a fierce opponent of devolution.[11] Murphy recently said "I have been trying to work out whether or not I am a devo-sceptic and I have come to the conclusion that I am not. In 1978, I was a devo-opponent, and in 1997 I voted for devolution. My constituents agreed with me in 1978, but they did not agree with me in 1997, because they voted against a Welsh Assembly on both occasions. However, I would rather describe myself as a devo-realist, in the sense that what is here is here. I am not all that keen on a coalition in Cardiff, but we are where we are, and we have to work in the current political climate for the benefit of the people whom we represent, whether we are members of parliament, Assembly Members or members of local authorities".[12]

In a free parliamentary vote on 20 May 2008, Murphy voted for cutting the upper limit for abortions from 24 to 12 weeks, along with two other Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly and Des Browne.[13] In 2013, he became one of the few Labour MPs to vote against the bill that legalised same-sex marriage in England and Wales, which was eventually passed with cross-party support.[14]

Parliamentary expenses

Murphy was subject to criticism over his expenses claims, revealed by the Daily Telegraph during the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal. Most notable of these was his £3,419.25 claim to have a new boiler installed in his Westminster house, stating that the previous one was a hazard as "The hot water was far too hot".[15]

Other claims submitted by Paul Murphy relate to purchases of a toilet roll holder, new carpeting and a television, as well as mortgage payments and stamp duty.[16][17] Murphy was ordered to repay some of the money improperly "claimed back" in the amount of £2,237.72 in cleaning costs, mortgage payments and a wardrobe that exceeded the guideline price.[18]


  1. "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Retrieved 27 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Name: MURPHY, Paul/Registration district: Pontypool
    County: Monmouthshire/Year of registration: 1948/Quarter of registration: Oct-Nov-Dec/Mother's maiden name: Gough/Volume 8C /Page # 416
  3. "Welcome -".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "BBC NEWS - VOTE2001 - WALES - Murphy keeps Welsh Secretary role".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Rt. Hon. Paul Murphy MP".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "BBC News - UK - Oxbridge blues, and reds".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Welcome -".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The London Gazette: no. 61390. p. 20046. 26 October 2015.
  9. "BBC News - Wales - Murphy confirmed as Welsh Secretary".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 "BBC NEWS - UK - Wales - Murphy returns as Welsh secretary".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "The Secret life of Paul Murphy. - Paul Flynn - Read My Day".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "BBC NEWS - UK - UK Politics - MPs back 24-week abortion limit".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Labour and Lib Dem MPs who voted against gay marriage: full list".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Rosa Prince (8 May 2009). "Paul Murphy's plumbing bill because water was too hot: MPs' expenses".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "MPs' expenses". the Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Legg blames parliament, MPs and the Speaker".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Leo Abse
Member of Parliament for Torfaen
Succeeded by
Nick Thomas-Symonds
Political offices
Preceded by
Alun Michael
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Peter Hain
Preceded by
John Reid
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Ann Taylor
Chairperson of the Intelligence and Security Committee
Succeeded by
Margaret Beckett
Preceded by
Peter Hain
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Peter Hain