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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
What to do with 18 months extra?

Ann Widdecombe
Ann Widdecombe is retiring after more than 20 years in Parliament

Gordon Brown's announcement last weekend in which he said there would be no general election until at least 2009, gave one group of people an extra 18 months in their job.

They are the MPs who have already announced that they will retire at the next election, and suddenly they have more time in the House of Commons.

So what are they going to do with their extra 18 months?

Ann Widdecombe announced this week that she is to stand down as a Conservative MP after 20 years in Parliament.

One of her party's most visible stars, she is also a committed Catholic and will be focussing her extra 18 months on the abortion bill.

She wants to reduce, as far as possible, the upper limit when terminations can be carried out.

Disruptive

Mark Oaten
Planning a whole range of different things outside Parliament
Mark Oaten
Mark Oaten, the Lib Dem MP, has been in Parliament only half as long, and says the changed election date was disruptive.

He had been planning "a whole range of different things outside parliament."

Still, he will use his extra time to get more involved in the issue of prison reform and in the Council of Europe, to which he has just been appointed.

Not everyone sees their extra time as an opportunity to do something new.

John Cummings, the MP for Easington since 1987, says "I don't see it as a big deal at all."

He will press on with business as usual, dealing with constituency business and individual constituents' problems.

Relieved

And his Labour colleague Dr. Lynne Jones, standing down as a Birmingham Labour MP after more than 15 years, will also continue business as usual.

In her case this means her focus on mental health, for which she chairs the all-party group. She'll also focus on climate change.

Dr Lynne Jones MP
Lynne Jones will not have to send back her Christmas cards

However, she is relieved that the election did not come this year - she had just placed a big order for Christmas cards saying "from Lynne Jones MP" which she could not cancel!

Angela Browning, the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, will also use her extra time to try and finish some of her works in progress.

In particular, she wants to oppose government plans to turn Exeter into a unitary local authority, and campaign on the issue of post office closures in the South West - the plan for closures is expected next year.

Matthew Taylor, the Lib Dem MP for Truro, is unusual in this company in that he has something entirely new to do.

After 20 years in Parliament, he was asked by Gordon Brown earlier in 2007 to use his experience in the area to report on affordable housing and the rural economy.

That, in addition to his long-term regional interest Cornish affairs, will be his focus over the next 18 months.

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