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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
London MPs giving up their seats
A number of London's high-profile MPs have chosen not to stand in this year's general election.

BBC News takes a look at those who will not be canvassing for your vote and will be saying goodbye to their constituency seats.

Chris Smith (Lab)

Chris Smith
Chris Smith announced he was HIV positive in January
The first openly-gay cabinet minister Chris Smith made the headlines earlier this year when he announced he had been HIV positive for 17 years.

The MP for Islington South and Finsbury is one of the most well-known politicians who will not be attempting to return to Westminster after the general election.

The former minister for Culture, Media and Sport said he was inspired to go public about his condition after former South African president Nelson Mandela announced his son had died of Aids.

Mr Smith said he would not stand in the next election for the seat he has held since 1983, as he felt it was time to move on to "other challenges".

Paul Boateng (Lab)

Paul Boateng MP
Mr Boateng was the first black cabinet minister
Paul Boateng, the UK's first black cabinet minister, will not be standing for re-election to his Brent South seat as he is due to take on the role of the UK's high commissioner to South Africa.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury will take up the post only if Labour remains in power.

Mr Boateng took the Brent South seat in 1987 and served as prisons minister at the Home Office before promotion to his current post in 2002.

Born in Hackney, Mr Boateng first came to prominence in London in the late 1970s as civil rights lawyer and was elected to the Greater London Council in 1981.

Michael Portillo (Con)

Michael Portillo
Mr Portillo is not seeking re-election as an MP
Former defence secretary Michael Portillo announced his decision to step-down from British politics after supporting Michael Howard in the race to become leader of the Tory party.

The Kensington and Chelsea MP made attempts at the leadership himself, but returned to the back benches after failing in his bid to succeed William Hague following the Conservative's defeat in the 2001 general election.

He lost his Enfield Southgate seat - which he had held from 1984 - in the 1997 general election to Stephen Twigg. He then took the ultra-safe Tory seat of Kensington and Chelsea in a by-election in 1999 following the death of Alan Clark.

Mr Portillo says he is standing down to explore new opportunities in the arts, public bodies and the media.

Tony Banks (Lab)

Tony Banks MP
Tony Banks is known for his forthright views

Former sports minister and avid Chelsea fan Tony Banks has got into trouble for his colourful language at points in his Westminster career.

The West Ham MP, who took the seat in 1983, once described Tory leader William Hague as a "foetus" and upset Anglo-Canadian relations by insulting the Canadians over seal culling.

He took his role in the cabinet in Tony Blair's first administration but resigned in 1999 to concentrate on the unsuccessful bid to host the World Cup at Wembley.

Mr Banks told the BBC his decision to stand down was because he had become upset about media reports that MPs lead the gravy-train existence and the monotony of the job. He said he had begun to ask himself "Why am I doing this?"

Jenny Tonge (LD)

Jenny Tonge MP
Jenny Tonge left the front benches after remarks on suicide bombers

Jenny Tonge lost her job on the Lib Dem front bench after making remarks about Palestinian suicide bombers in January last year.

Dr Tonge, who has decided to stand down after two terms as MP for Richmond Park, was made the party's international development spokesman shortly after taking the seat from former Tory chairman Jeremy Hanley in 1997.

She later became spokeswoman on children's issues, but Charles Kennedy asked her to quit when she said she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were Palestinian - despite insisting she did not condone their actions.

One of Dr Tonge's three children Mary Wherry died when she was electrocuted in her home in Hampton, in south-west London, last year.

Other London MPs standing down

Sir Sydney Chapman (Con) has held the seat of Chipping Barnet since 1979. Prior to that he held a seat in Birmingham for a term after winning it in 1970.

He is an architect and planner by profession, he has a strong interest in conservation and particularly in the preservation of London's greenbelt, and has instituted several tree planting initiatives.

John Wilkinson (Con), the MP for Ruislip Northwood was one of the hardcore of Maastricht rebels who ultimately lost the Conservative Whip after voting against European budget provisions.

He has spent most of his years on the back benches, having first won a seat in 1970, with a brief stint in the first years of the Thatcher government as a parliamentary private secretary.

Iain Coleman (Lab), enjoyed a moment of notoriety when a researcher's comment that he preferred Arsenal games over engagements in his Hammersmith and Fulham constituency, were leaked to the press.

The former council leader won the seat in 1997.

Clive Soley (Lab), the Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush MP, who was elected in 1979, spent several years as a shadow minister until he retired to the back benches in 1992.

There he took on the role as chair of the Northern Ireland select committee and later became chair of the parliamentary Labour party.

Tom Cox, (Lab), a left-leaning internationalist, is stepping-down from his Tooting seat after more than thirty years at Westminster.

He is one of the only serving Labour MPs elected in 1970 not to have become a privy councillor and twice refused to accept a peerage so that a more pliant Blairite could inherit his seat.

Brian Sedgemore (Lab), the Hackney South and Shoreditch MP is known as a maverick of the backbenches who appears to pay little heed to the constraints of party politics when speaking his mind.

He has held his present seat since 1983 and has spent much of his time on the backbenches - 14 years of which he sat on the Treasury select committee.



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