He was the Newport MP with a record period of 33 years service. His career was dominated by his uncompromising defence of the working classes to the extent that he objected to his union supporting teachers and lawyers as MPs. His biggest public controversy was when he appeared to defend the Munich killing of Israeli athletes on the ground of the worse suffering of Palestinians.
There was surprise when he accepted a peerage after being re-selected to fight his Newport East seat. He was later frank in describing the details of the offer. Gordon Prentice MP raised the issue of party hacks who are kicked upstairs. He suggested that the HOLAC, the appointing body, should vet the political lists of peers submitted by political parties. Without quoting names, he mentioned the large number of MPs who resign shortly before General Elections to reappear later as Lords. Expert Meg Russell agreed and suggested that parties should submit longer lists so that an element of choice can be made by Holac.
Gordon asked whether the best legislators are being appointed or is the House of Lords used as dumping ground for party problems. Without naming Roy, I suggested that evidence was available in his frank admissions of how he was ennobled. He said that when he first hinted that he might be prepared to stand down from his Newport East seat, 'They came at me like elephants'. Tony Blair was searching for a seat for Tory MP defector Alan Howarth.
I can confirm Roy's account because I was told by Welsh Shadow Secretary Ron Davies that Roy was going. His next sentence rocked me back on my heels as a total non-sequitur. 'You are well disposed towards Alan Howarth, aren't you?' I was and I had welcomed his joining the Labour Party because of his compassionate views on Social Security. The juxtaposition of Ron Davies' two sentences was persuasive evidence that Roy was being elevated in order to find a seat for the Tory defector.
The shortlist for the Newport East seat was manipulated to ensure that Alan Howarth was competing with three of the weaker candidates. The present splendid Assembly Member for Newport West Rosemary Butler and the MP for Cardiff West were both taken off the short list because they were strong threats to Alan's selection. The stitch-up worked Alan became the MP for Newport East and Roy became Lord Islwyn.
There are hundreds of example of all the main parties using the Lords to solve their own problems rather than appointing the best qualified legislators. In any reform there might be some limits on the choice of political parties. Few Lords are prepared to reveal the murky details of how they were chosen. Roy's frankness may well advance a worthwhile reform.