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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 20:57 GMT
Michael Howard stands down as MP
Michael Howard

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard has announced he will stand down as an MP at the next election.

He said he had been privileged to have been an MP for more than 20 years but it was now "time to move on".

Mr Howard entered the Commons in 1983 as MP for Folkestone and Hythe, rising to home secretary under John Major.

In 2003, he became the surprise successor to the party leadership at the age of 62. He stepped down in December 2005.

Announcing his intention to leave the Commons, Mr Howard said: "By the time of the next election I will have been an MP for 26 years.

"I have been very privileged to serve as a government minister for 12 years and in the shadow cabinets for six years but the time has now come to move on."

Early career

Mr Howard was born in 1941 and educated at Llanelli Grammar School and Cambridge University.

He was called to the Bar in 1964 and appointed a QC in 1982 - a year before becoming an MP.

His early political career included ministerial posts for local government, water and planning.

As Local Government Minister played a major role in masterminding the ill-fated poll tax legislation through Parliament.

In 1990 he entered the Cabinet as secretary of state for employment and in 1992 was appointed environment minister.

In May 1993 he became home secretary, a position he held for four years.

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