Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Longest-serving whip Tommy McAvoy MP to retire

Tommy McAvoy
Tommy McAvoy has been a government whip for 13 years

A Scottish Labour MP who is the longest-serving government whip has announced that he will stand down at the general election.

Tommy McAvoy, representing Rutherglen and Hamilton West electors, will go after 23 years in Westminster.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the 66-year-old, who has been a whip for 13 years, as a "titan" of politics.

He was first elected to parliament in 1987 and he currently holds his seat with a 16,112 majority.

Mr McAvoy said: "I have now reached the age of 66 and like anyone it is only natural to consider my future.

"Having considered all the factors involved I have concluded, after a lot of thought, the best thing for the local party and my family is to step down.

Tommy is not just an MP - he is an institution. He is the longest serving government whip of all time
Jim Murphy
Scottish secretary

"I am proud to have been elected at successive elections as a Labour and Co-operative MP. I am also proud to have served 13 years within the Labour Government Whips Office."

Mr McAvoy, born and brought up in Rutherglen, offered his full support to his successor who will have "all to fight for" at the forthcoming election.

The prime minister said Mr McAvoy had "tirelessly worked" for the people of his home town and he would be sorely missed in Lanarkshire and Westminster alike.

Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy said: "Tommy is not just an MP - he is an institution. He is the longest serving government whip of all time.

"His job has been to steer laws through parliament to change people's lives. It is because of his work that Labour has been able to introduce so many changes which help so many people in different ways."



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