Owen is proud to represent his hometown constituency of Pontypridd, which he described in his maiden speech as an “iconic Valleys seat”.
Read an extract from Owen’s maiden speech below:
“I’m sure honourable friends from neighbouring constituencies will forgive me for saying that Pontypridd is an iconic valleys seat. From the town of Pontypridd itself, bisecting that most welsh of waterways, the Taff, whose once coal-black eddies mix now in the great park of Ynysangharad with the Rhondda, through to the mining towns and villages of Beddau, Tynant and Tonyrefail in the north, to the farmland-turned-commuter communities of Pontyclun, Miskin and Efail Isaf in the south, it is modern South Wales in microcosm.
“Its past is also a near-perfect reflection of south Welsh history. Ponty grew from village to market town and county town on the profits of coal. The rush for ‘black gold’ in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought great architecture, and culture, and character, and a frontier town attitude that would have been recognised in Abilene, or Dodge City, in the same era.
“It left us, that period, with our famous bridge, once the widest single-span crossing in the world, and another by Brunel, a train station built to accommodate the great carriages and coal trucks, also once the longest in the world. Boxing champions, like Freddie Welsh; singers, from the bass-baritone of Geraint Evans, to the Treforest tenor of Tom Jones; and rugby stars, of course, by the dozen – Glyn Davies, Russell Robins, Neil Jenkins, Martyn Williams, Gethin Jenkins, the list is endless.
“And Pontypridd’s present, too, mirrors post-industrial Wales – greener, healthier and wealthier now than ever, thanks to Labour investment. A new hospital, four new schools, a massive increase in quality housing and home ownership, and now a £40million learning campus, soon to be opened at Nantgarw, just one current testament to our ambition, and the aspiration of our people, and our faith in them.
“However, questions do remain about the future of Pontypridd. Though the last decade has seen my constituency and others like it start to close the gap in health, wealth and opportunity between them and more affluent parts of Britain, the distance is still unacceptably wide. It can be closed, in part, with effort and aspiration, but it requires sustained investment too, and though we live in much straitened economic times, principles of social justice and economic equity dictate that whichever government is in power, we must recognise the need to shrink that gap further.”