This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

GP MP to step down

By Steve Nowottny

Labour backbencher and part-time GP Dr Howard Stoate has announced he is to resign as an MP in order to concentrate on general practice.

Dr Stoate, who served on the Commons health committee and was first elected in 1997, said his position as an MP was ‘no longer tenable' after changes to the rules on MPs' second jobs.

‘I think my own contribution to the work of Parliament would be diminished if I was to give up general practice, which is why I have decided not to stand as a candidate at the next general election,' he said.

In 2005 Dr Stoate was elected by a majority of just 706, making his Dartford constituency the 35th most marginal seat in the country.

Dr Howard Stoate's statement in full

It has been a privilege to have served as Dartford's MP since 1997. Over the last twelve years I have worked hard for Dartford and done my utmost to ensure that the interests of my constituents are properly represented in Westminster.

I got involved in politics because I thought it was the quickest and most effective way of making a material difference to people's lives. I still believe this today and I would say that the same is true of virtually everyone I have ever worked with in Parliament on all sides of House.

When I stood for Parliament in Dartford in 1997 I decided that I wanted to continue to do some work as a medical GP each week if I was elected. I did so because I thought that the House of Commons would benefit from the presence of someone who was still active in medicine and was able to speak with authority about the impact of Government health policy on front-line NHS professionals and patients.

I feel that my experience as a GP has helped me enormously in my work on House of Commons Health Select Committee in scrutinising Government policy and as Chairman of a number of health related All Party Parliamentary Groups. I have never allowed my medical responsibilities to interfere with my parliamentary duties and I have always been open and upfront with my constituents about my ongoing work as a GP.

The fact that Dartford voters have re-elected twice me as their MP since 1997 knowing that I have continued to practise as a GP, suggests that they too see this as a boon.

It is clear however from the tenor of recent debates in the Commons and from the position taken by senior figures within the Parliamentary Labour Party with regard to the outside work of MPs that this position is no longer tenable. It is apparent that Labour candidates standing for Parliament at the next election will be expected to give up their outside jobs if they are elected.

I respect this view but I think my own contribution to the work of Parliament would be diminished if I was to give up General Practice which is why I have decided not to stand as a candidate at the next general election.

It is a decision I take with some sadness, but I feel that I have made a significant contribution to Westminster and to life in Dartford and I look back on my record with a sense of pride and satisfaction.

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say