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Kim Howells
Dr Kim Scott Howells (born November 27, 1946 in Merthyr Tydfil) is a Labour politician in Wales, and member of Parliament for Pontypridd. He entered the House of Commons in a by-election in 1989. He has been a junior minister in various departments since the 1997 election, and from September 2004 served as a Minister of State at the Department for Education and Skills. Since May 2005, Dr Howells has served as a Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with responsibility for: the Middle East, Afghanistan and South Asia, counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, counter-terrorism, UN and UN reform.

In 2002 when a junior Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, he criticised the Turner Prize by writing a note that read:

    If this is the best British artists can produce then British art is lost. It is cold mechanical, conceptual bullshit. Kim Howells. P.S. The attempts at conceptualisation are particularly pathetic and symptomatic of a lack of conviction

Kim Howells went to Hornsey College of Art and later gained a PhD from the University of Warwick. Before entering Parliament he worked as a researcher for the South Wales Miner, as a writer and presenter for television and radio and as a lecturer.

On January 12, 2006, Howells admitted that he had been the Minister responsible for approving the appointment of Paul Reeve (who had accepted a police caution for downloading child pornography) as a Physical education teacher at a Norwich school, which had initially been blamed on his boss, Ruth Kelly. The appointment had caused controversy when it was revealed that Reeve was on the sex offenders' register but not on 'List 99' containing those unsuitable for work with children.

Throughout his Parliamentary career he has been unafraid to speak his mind and has often sparked strong criticism from those he has criticised or offended. During a House of Commons debate on licensing laws he said that the idea of "listening to three Somerset folk singers sounds like hell".

In February, 2006 he was the subject of a complaint from Paul Flynn MP after he mocked Mr Flynn's attitude towards the UK's Afghan Drug policy as being equivelant to: "It is not enough to assume that if people eat the right kind of muesli, go to first nights of Harold Pinter revivals and read The Independent occasionally, the drug barons of Afghanistan will go away. They will not."

In a Today programme interview, while visiting Iraq on March 11, 2006 as Foreign Office minister, he said:

    [Iraq] is a mess that can't launch an attack now on Iran; a mess that won't be able to march into Kuwait; it's a mess that can't develop nuclear weapons. So yes it's a mess but it's starting to look like the sort of mess that most of us live in.

He once described the royal family as "a bit bonkers".


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