Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 14:25 UK

Tory MP Ancram is to stand down

Michael Ancram
Michael Ancram said he was sad to announce his departure

Former Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram is to step down from Parliament at the next election.

Mr Ancram, who has been MP for Devizes, Wiltshire, since 1992, said the decision had been "forced upon me by considerations of health".

In a letter to his constituency party chairman, he said he had been on heart medication for the past six years.

Former Tory leader William Hague paid tribute to Mr Ancram for his work on the Northern Ireland peace process.

Mr Hague, now the shadow foreign secretary, called Mr Ancram - who has also done that job - a "much-valued colleague" who had performed a crucial role as party chairman during the difficult years after the heavy 1997 election defeat.

'Pressures'

Mr Ancram is one of a number of MPs to announce they are stepping down following the expenses revelations earlier this year - in his case the focus was on a claim for maintenance for a swimming pool boiler.

But there was no reference to this in his resignation letter.

We have appreciated with genuine affection all in the constituency who have unfailingly treated us with courtesy and warmth even if politically we did not always see eye to eye
Michael Ancram

Mr Ancram said: "I have recently had to consider the effects of the pressures of another five years of parliamentary and constituency duties upon my health.

"I have also taken into consideration the fact that I will be almost 65 at the time when the election is likely to be held. I have reluctantly concluded that for the sake of my family and myself the time has come for me to stand down.

"This has not been an easy decision. I speak for my wife Jane as well when I say that the 17 years during which I have represented the Devizes constituency in Parliament have been the happiest and most fulfilling of our political lives.

"We have appreciated with genuine affection all in the constituency who have unfailingly treated us with courtesy and warmth even if politically we did not always see eye to eye.

"I hope they will feel that I have worked conscientiously for them as I have always tried to do, even when I was heavily involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland or as Conservative Party chairman or indeed when I travelled a good deal as shadow foreign secretary and deputy leader of the opposition.

"This is a sad day for Jane and me and we thank everyone for their understanding."

Mr Ancram was MP for Berwickshire and East Lothian from February 1974 until he lost the seat in the election of October the same year.

He then represented Edinburgh South from 1979 until he was again defeated in 1987.

In September 2007 Mr Ancram warned Conservative leader David Cameron not to bring in "vacuous" reforms and urged the party against "trashing" the legacy of former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher.



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