Turncoat MP to stand down.
Labour mp Alan Howarth has announced he has decided not to seek re-election to Parliament at the next general election, saying he would like to have more time 'for family and home'. Mr Howarth, 60, hit the headlines in 1995 when he crossed the floor of the House of Commons from Conservative to Labour, becoming the first MP to do so.
He said he had taken the decision to stand down with 'mixed feelings' and had been 'proud and happy' to be MP for Newport East.
Mr Howarth was first elected to the House of Commons, as a Conservative MP, in 1983 and served as a Government whip and a junior minister.
He switched his allegiance after criticising the Conservative Government's 'indifference to the plight of the poor and neglect of public services', and was elected Labour MP for Newport East in 1997.
He has served as Minister for Employment and Disabled People and Minister for the Arts. Since 2001 he has been a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
Mr Howarth said, 'I have taken the decision to stand down with very mixed feelings. I remember vividly and with deep gratitude the day the Newport East Labour Party chose me as candidate in 1997.
'I have been proud and happy since then to be MP for Newport East, working with the party and Labour's other elected representatives, and I have greatly valued the kindness and friendship I have received from so many people in the constituency.
'However, by next summer I shall have been in the House of Commons for 22 years, and I just feel that is enough. I think it's usually better to bow out earlier rather than later, and I would like to have more time for family and home.'
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said, 'I thought Alan showed great courage in joining the Labour Party from the Conservatives and putting his career on the line for his beliefs. He's been an excellent MP and a very good minister.'
Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan
said, 'Alan always had the essential element of Labour values of thinking about others before himself. I'm sure the House of Commons will miss him, and I hope he remains involved in Labour politics in South Wales.'