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Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 17:49 GMT
Youngest MSP to stand down
Duncan Hamilton and Winnie Ewing
The youngest and oldest MSPs at the opening of parliament
The Scottish Parliament's youngest member has said he will not be seeking re-election next year.

Scottish National Party MSP Duncan Hamilton will quit the parliament at the next election to pursue a career in law.

The 28-year-old Highlands and Islands list MSP wrote an open letter to his Argyll and Bute constituency party in which he said he believed it was best for elected representatives to have "real life experience" outside politics.

The Ayrshire born MSP, who received an LLB from the University of Edinburgh and was a Kennedy scholar at Harvard, Massachusetts, indicated he might seek a return to parliamentary life in the future.

Being elected at the age of 25 was a wonderful experience and one that I will never regret

Duncan Hamilton
"Being elected as the youngest member of the first Scottish Parliament in 300 years was a great privilege, and something that I have enjoyed hugely," he said.

He said that the SNP had emerged as a strong official opposition in the Scots Parliament and it had been an honour to serve the people of the Highlands and Islands.

He said: "Being elected at the age of 25 was a wonderful experience and one that I will never regret.

"But I also believe that the best parliamentarians have real life experience outside elected politics, and that this is now the right time for me to fulfil my other ambitions."

"My enthusiasm for the SNP and the goal of Scottish Independence remains absolute and it is my desire to continue making a contribution to Scotland's cause - hopefully again in the future as an elected representative."

Remain active

SNP leader John Swinney described Mr Hamilton as a "first class" MSP for the Highlands and Islands, as well as a close friend and colleague.

He added: "He is also a young man and I understand his decision to develop an alternative career at this stage in his life. I know from my own career the value of outside experience in building and developing a rounded perspective.

"I wish him the very best and know that he will remain active on behalf of the SNP and Scotland outside the Scottish Parliament. I also fully expect him to return as an elected representative at a future stage in his career."

Political correspondent Glenn Campbell
"He may not be the last to leave Holyrood at the next election"
See also:

22 Jul 01 | Scotland
SNP veteran Ewing to retire
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Salmond hails poll standing
26 Sep 99 | Scotland
SNP veteran appeals for loyalty
31 Aug 99 | Scotland
Ewing to stand in by-election
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