May 23, 2009 / 12:57 PM / 10 years ago

Former Labour party chairman stepping down as MP

Britain's Minister of State for Trade Ian McCartney stands on the steps outside 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London September 14, 2006. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

LONDON (Reuters) - Former government minister Ian McCartney said on Saturday he would be quitting as a MP at the next election because of health problems.

The former pensions and trade minister had heart surgery in 2005 and said he was stepping down at the urging of his family after suffering a further bout of illness late last year.

“Since December 2008 I have had to see four senior consultants in different disciplines of healthcare,” he said.

“I have been admitted to accident and emergency three times and I have most recently had to complete a rehabilitation course for disc injury and may yet require surgical procedures for a chronic recurring condition.”

McCartney, a former Labour party chairman, made no reference in his statement to the expenses scandal that has seen two Labour MPs suspended from their party and four MPs announcing they will quit at the next election, due by June 2010.

Earlier this week McCartney announced he had voluntarily repaid 15,000 pounds of expense claims last year for refurbishing his second home after the rules were tightened.

A Labour party spokeswoman insisted the expenses row had nothing to do with McCartney’s decision and said he had not been forced to stand down.

“It is completely his own decision, it is to do with health reasons,” she said.

McCartney, 58, has represented Makerfield in Wigan, north west England, for 22 years. He reheld the safe Labour seat with an increased majority of more than 18,000 votes in 2005.

Reporting by Tim Castle

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