Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 14:23 UK

Senior Labour MP is to stand down

Ian McCartney MP
Ian McCartney MP will stand down at the general election

Labour MP Ian McCartney has announced he is to stand down at the next general election due to poor health.

The MP for Makerfield, in north-west England, said he "agonised over a truly traumatic decision of retiring early from the only job I have ever loved".

His constituency chairman, Billy Rotherham, said the former Labour chairman, born near Glasgow, had left an indelible mark on the nation.

He credited him with introducing the minimum wage and safe foam furniture.

'Lifetime of service'

In a statement, Mr McCartney, 58, said: "It is with great sadness that following discussions with my family and wonderful staff, I have informed members of the Makerfield Labour Party that it is my intention not to contest the next general election due to continuing health problems.

"By the next election I will be nearly 60. My family felt strongly last December that it was not a commitment that I should risk and should accept an earlier retirement to assist sustaining my health.

Speaking up and out for others is in my DNA; it's what the McCartney family instinctively does
Ian McCartney

"Despite my continued health problems, I was very reluctant to give up a lifetime of public service and a vocation which I had poured so much genuine effort and commitment in to.

"Speaking up and out for others is in my DNA; it's what the McCartney family instinctively does."

He paid tribute to his supportive family, NHS staff and thanked the people of Wigan and Makerfield for allowing him to represent them for 30 years.

He said he wanted to give party members the opportunity to select a new candidate to put forward at the next general election.

A friend, former Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe, said the decision to retire was based on health problems linked to heart surgery several years ago.

Mr Hinchliffe said: "He's always been a very, very hard worker on behalf of his constituents in the Makerfield area and I think he needs to put his feet up a bit, quite frankly, in the interests of himself and his wife and his ten grandchildren."

Ian McCartney was elected to represent the Makerfield Constituency in 1987 and has been re-elected to Parliament at the general elections of 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005.

In the recent expense claim revelations reported in the Telegraph, Ian McCartney was alleged to have claimed £16,000 to cover the cost of furnishing and decorating his second home, but paid the money back two years later - in August 2008.

He said he had "done everything humanly possible to do the right thing".

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