The former Tory cabinet minister Tom King will stand down at the next general election, he announced yesterday.
The MP for Bridgwater said that after 30 years in Parliament he felt he had served long enough. "You have to decide whether you are prepared to do another six or seven years, and I thought it was time for a younger person to carry on." He is the latest in a series of experienced politicians, including Sir Norman Fowler and John MacGregor, who will stand down at the next election.
Mr King held several posts under Margaret Thatcher, most notably as Employment Secretary during the miners' strikes. He was also Northern Ireland Secretary, and Defence Secretary during the Gulf War.
He left the Cabinet after the 1992 election and was later the first chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
Labour has chosen a lecturer at Middlesex University, Andrew Howard, 38, of Reigate, Surrey, to contest the Romsey by-election caused by the death of Michael Colvin in a fire at his home in the constituency. The by-election is expected to be held on 4 May. The Conservatives held the Hampshire seat in May 1997 with a majority of 8,585.