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Kevin Brennan stands down as MP for Cardiff West

Business of the House (18 January 2024)

Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)
Will the Leader of the House have another go at improving written ministerial answers? I recently asked the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities a very simple question about what meetings Ministers had had with Welsh and Scottish counterparts on the implementation of the new ombudsman scheme. The answer from the Minister for Housing, Planning and Building Safety was:

Ministers and officials have regular engagement with the devolved administrations on a range of issues.”

That passes the Lloyd George test: it was short, accurate and told me absolutely nothing I did not know already. In this day and age, can we not at least have a culture among Ministers of answering perfectly straightforward and factual questions in a perfectly straightforward and factual way, and will she help to facilitate that, please?

Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
The hon. Gentleman will know that a great deal of time and effort is taken in the drafting departments in Government Departments. My noble Friend Lord True and I run regular training sessions, as do the officials in my office. We are always on the lookout for good and bad practice so that we can ensure that people know what Members of Parliament need, and we inform those individuals of what is helpful to us in dealing with casework and in which format we might need information. I am always open to example of good and bad practice being passed to my office, and I will certainly raise it with the relevant Department.

Dear Constituent, 

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the Israel-Gaza crisis. As always, I value your
engagement on this critical issue and share your desire for a peaceful resolution. I have
previously written a statement on this crisis which can be read
here. The levels of death and
destruction over the past weeks has been intolerable. Many innocent Palestinians, including
women and children, have been killed as part of military operations. There must be full
accountability for all actions, and Labour has called for the International Criminal Court to
address the conduct of all parties in Gaza and Hamas’s attacks in Israel.

The recent cessation of hostilities, though too brief, offered a glimpse of hope. However, with
its end, we found ourselves once again witnessing an escalation of violence. The Labour
Party, along with international partners, is urging all parties not to squander the progress made
during this period. I want to see a sustainable ceasefire as quickly as possible. Hostilities must
end as quickly as possible with hostages released and more humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

As the situation unfolds, it is paramount that all sides adhere strictly to international
humanitarian law. The preservation of innocent lives and civilian infrastructure, such as
schools and hospitals, is not just a moral imperative but a legal one. The distressing levels of
death and destruction, particularly impacting Palestinian civilians, underline the urgent need
for full accountability and a reassessment of military operations.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza, exacerbated by the onset of winter, demands immediate and
scaled-up aid. The people of Gaza require substantial assistance in terms of food, water, fuel,
shelter, and medical supplies. This aid is critical not only for immediate survival but also to
prevent further health crises. It's essential to address the rights of those displaced by the
conflict, ensuring their ability to return home and rebuild their lives. Gaza must not be
relegated to a permanent state of displacement and humanitarian need. The UK and our
international partners must work tirelessly to find a pathway to a sustainable ceasefire and a
lasting political solution, one that addresses the threat posed by Hamas, ends illegal
settlements and settler violence in the West Bank, and plans for the reconstruction and
renewal of Gaza.

Labour remains committed to a two-state solution, with a sovereign Palestinian state
alongside a safe and secure Israel. This is the only credible basis for long-term peace. We
recognise that this goal requires diligent and sustained diplomatic efforts. In these times the
voices from the extremes of both sides are often amplified, only prolonging and deepening the
violence. Recent events have shown that diplomacy can lead to positive outcomes.
Palestinians must be assured their future will not be like the past, and that they and their
children will be able to enjoy the security, opportunities and rights that we take for granted. 

I assure you that I am conveying your concerns directly in our frontbench discussions. We are
not in Government, but we stand firm in our call for a sustainable ceasefire as a necessary step
towards lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. Thank you once again
for your engagement on this important issue.

Yours sincerely


Kevin Brennan MP
Member of Parliament for Cardiff West



Mark has been an exemplary public servant and will leave a lasting legacy as a result of his absolute dedication to social justice and the welfare of people of Wales.

I have had the privilege of working closely with him and witnessed his extraordinary work commitment and thoughtful approach to politics.

His moral leadership of Wales during COVID will forever be contrasted with the moral bankruptcy of the leadership of the UK government at the same time. 

I know the personal trauma that Mark suffered with the sudden loss of his wife Clare and have been deeply moved by his determination to continue to serve the people of Wales and to deliver the commitments promised in the Welsh Labour manifesto.

Typically he has done exactly what he promised and is standing down as First Minster to allow a successor sufficient time to prepare for future elections.

I look forward to continuing to work with Mark as my Senedd colleague for Cardiff West and to enjoy his company as a true friend.

Prison Capacity
Justice Questions (21 November 2023)

Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)
The Secretary of State’s emergency early release scheme is meant to tackle a capacity crisis that is entirely of this Government’s making, and it excludes only serious violence. Surely domestic abuse and stalking are serious offences, yet they are not excluded from early release. What kind of signal does that give to victims, the public, and indeed perpetrators of violence against women and girls?

Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
We are proud that under this Government sentences for offences such as rape have gone up by a third. We have a situation in which charges are up, the conviction rate is higher and sentences are longer—and, unlike under the Labour Government, people are spending a higher proportion of those sentences in custody. We think that is the right thing to do. To the hon. Member’s point, the exclusions in place go beyond what he indicated, so he is factually incorrect; they also include sex offences and terrorist offences. Here is a really important point: where the custodial authorities are satisfied that there is a specific risk, there is an opportunity to ensure that release is blocked. That is important, because we will always stand up for victims of crime.

Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)
Argument weak? Go long and do not answer the question—the classic response from this Government. The truth is that without any Government announcement of a start date, prisons began releasing offenders over a month ago. These men are already walking our streets, but the Government will not tell us how many, or why they were behind bars in the first place. Why do the Government not believe that the public deserve to know who is being released back into the community when a court decided that they should be in prison?

Alex Chalk The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
We will make whatever appropriate announcements in due course; we will not demur from that. We will also not apologise for having, under this Government, a higher custodial population than before. We are taking robust steps to ensure that the public are protected, which means unashamedly that those who commit the most serious offences—those such as murder in the context of sexual or sadistic conduct—go to prison for the rest of their lives. Will the hon. Member support that? I wonder. We are also using the evidence so that those capable of rehabilitation are rehabilitated. One thing that we will not ever put at risk is the threat to women and girls. As the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend Laura Farris, indicated, we have taken steps to ensure that victims of domestic abuse will be properly protected under the Government.

Thank you to everyone who has written to me about the terrible situation in Gaza. For those who have not had a chance to read it, I have previously written a statement on the situation which can be read here.

In relation specifically to votes on Gaza in the King’s Speech debate in parliament, I supported the Labour amendment. I think it is important that people are aware of the wording of the amendment, because there is an impression being given that it is not focused on the practical steps needed to achieve an end to the fighting as soon as possible.

Here is the text of the Labour amendment:
“This House wishes to see an end to the violence in Israel and Palestine; unequivocally condemn the horrific terrorist attack and murder of civilians by Hamas, call for the immediate release of all hostages and reaffirm Israel’s right to defend its citizens from terrorism; believe all human life is equal and that there has been too much suffering, including far too many deaths of innocent civilians and children, over the past month in Gaza; reaffirm the UK’s commitment to the rules-based international order, international humanitarian law and the jurisdiction of the ICC to address the conduct of all parties in Gaza and Hamas’s attacks in Israel; call on Israel to protect hospitals and lift the siege conditions allowing food, water, electricity, medicine and fuel into Gaza; request the Government continue to work with the international community to prevent a wider escalation of the conflict in the region, guarantee that people in Gaza who are forced to flee during this conflict can return to their homes and seek an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the West Bank; and, while acknowledging the daily humanitarian pauses to allow in aid and the movement of civilians, believe they must be longer to deliver humanitarian assistance on a scale that begins to meet the desperate needs of the people of Gaza, which is a necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible and a credible, diplomatic and political process to deliver the lasting peace of a two-state solution.”

With so many innocent civilians and children lost over the past month in this terrible conflict, my support for this amendment stems from a fierce desire to achieve an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible

Kevin Brennan
MP for Cardiff West


I take this issue very seriously as, like you, I want to see an end to the violence and ultimately a lasting peaceful resolution. As I have mentioned previously, these are very grave and complex events with the facts on the ground changing by the minute. I am distraught by the devastation occurring in Gaza and I vehemently assert that Israel, notwithstanding its right to defend itself against attack after the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, must act in line with international law. The situation on the ground can only be described as a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. There must be a pause in fighting to provide aid to those desperately in need. Like the First Minister I hope that this could be a step which would enable the conditions for a more stable ceasefire to come about.

The current aid being provided through the Rafah Crossing is simply insufficient; we must see more humanitarian aid provided to Gaza. Israel must not block any attempt to provide aid, nor must it blockade fuel, food, and water from entering the region for humanitarian reasons. I welcome all efforts made to increase aid entering the region and this can only be achieved in full with a pause in hostilities on both sides.

Even with a pause in fighting the ugly truth is that Hamas will be planning to strike once again. Hamas’ ideology is to destroy Israel and they are against a two-state solution with peace and secure borders for both Palestinians and Israelis. Neither is it realistic to expect Israel to abandon its hostages who were taken amid atrocity. A situation which emboldens Hamas and leaves it with the power to carry out additional attacks will ultimately only prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people. Peace can never be obtained as long as Hamas is there threatening to destroy that peace. The Palestinian people should not needlessly suffer any more than they already have.

I am appalled by the news of human suffering coming from Gaza. In particular it is devastating to receive the reports of children and families killed in their homes and elsewhere. Enduring the fear that Gazan families are currently facing is almost unimaginable. We must do all that we can to preserve innocent lives including denuding that humanitarian pause. The Labour position is to implore Israel and Hamas to pause their fighting so that aid can be delivered to those who need it most and innocent civilians are protected. We also call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas.  I call on Israel to take every step in its fight with Hamas to minimise civilian casualties and suffering, because collective punishment is a war crime that cannot be justified under any circumstance.

The release of hostages and the fight with Hamas must be carried out with an absolute focus to protect and preserve the lives of civilians inevitably be caught up in the crossfire. I understand that this is easier said than done, but it is simply the minimum requirement for a State unlike a terrorist organisation acting with no regard for international law. Labour is working with international partners to support every effort to make this possible. I want to assure you that I have communicated all my constituents’ concerns about the conflict in meetings to the party leadership.

Not enough diplomatic attention has been paid to the Israel-Palestine conflict for far too long. In recent years there has been a trend to look away from all the suffering that has occurred in this region because of the difficulty of finding a peaceful outcome. It is a problem that I believe will never be resolved through military means, strident slogans, or indifference.  Recent events have confirmed that it is time to make a renewed effort to change this. I unequivocally back all efforts towards finding a way to peace in the region free from occupation and terrorism.

Despite the despairing rhetoric of extremists, a two-state solution is still firmly the way to achieve a lasting peace in the region. Benjamin Netanyahu’s undermining of any two-state solution, planting illegal settlements as facts on the ground, has not brought security. To ensure a future where Israel is secure from terrorism and Palestine is a sovereign state without settlements and occupation, it is vital to engage in constructive dialogue. This dialogue must underscore the worldwide recognition of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and equality, unaffected by the threats of unlawful settlements. There is no more looking away.  But Hamas must be stopped, and Israel must get back its hostages. Gazans must be given guarantees that they can return to their homes safely and they are provided with humanitarian aid that they so desperately need.

My heart goes out to all those deeply impacted in the region but also those living in fear in our own country. With Jewish schools closing and hijabis abused on public transport, the rise of Antisemitism and Islamophobia is heart-breaking.  I never thought that Jewish people in Cardiff would be telling me about their fear revealing their religion in public – including children in our schools - because of the abuse and threats they receive.  I never thought that my Muslim constituents would report abuse they have received simply for expressing their religious beliefs and culture. I know very well from experience the danger that heightened tensions pose to safety on our own streets, and it is a priority for me to encourage and reinforce the excellent interfaith relations that we have traditionally benefitted from in our city, and which can help to reduce tensions and the threat of violence.

All our citizens and residents have the right to peaceful protests and the right to protection from hate speech. I applaud all efforts by multiple groups to stamp out the vile racism, xenophobia, and hatred resulting from inflamed tensions. We cannot let hatred divide our country and our people. We should continue to stand up against all forms of hatred and bigotry.

Thank you for raising your concerns with me once again. I take all that you say very seriously and use it to help shape my dialogue with colleagues in the Labour Party. Like you, I want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible. Now is the time to renew our efforts to achieve a permanent end to the fighting, and not just a delay. Only through this approach can we ultimately hope to achieve the liberation of Palestine and the security of Israel.