OUTLAWING the political wing of Islamic organisation Hezbollah could put peace talks in the Middle East at risk, Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds has warned.

The Labour MP was speaking during a debate on the Shi'a group, which is considered a terrorist organisation by countries including the USA, in Parliament earlier this week.

In 2008 the then-Labour government outlawed Hezbollah's military wing, but not its political section, which holds seats in the Lebanese parliament.

Mr Thomas-Symonds said: "We have to be careful about closing off diplomatic channels."

He added: "While I do not for a moment underplay the terrible violent acts, we should be careful about our maintenance of engagement in these difficult conflicts around the world."

But Conservative Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers said: "Hezbollah is a violent, genocidal terrorist organisation dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, and I challenge (Mr Thomas-Symonds) to support the calls that have come from both sides of the house today to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety."

Mr Thomas-Symonds replied: "Nobody supports terrible, violent, barbaric acts. We simply look at the situation as it is and try to strike a balance.

"The opposition absolutely condemn the violence, and we continue to support the proscription of the military wing of Hezbollah, which has been the government’s position.

"We believe that engagement with the government and Parliament of Lebanon is important for the wider Middle East peace process and we should be careful about damaging that engagement."

Responding to the debate security minister Ben Wallace said: "I pledge to the house that we constantly monitor these groups and individuals involved in them.

"We constantly review the use of proscription as a means to take action where we see fit."

MPs voted in favour of a motion calling on the government to include Hezbollah in its entirety on the list of banned organisations.