BOLTON MP Dr Brian Iddon has revealed he is to leave the House of Commons at the next General Election.

The 66-year-old has held the Bolton South-east constituency for Labour since 1997.

But yesterday, after a meeting with the South-east Constituency Labour Party's General Management Committee, he announced that he will retire at the next election following a 30 year career in politics.

He was elected to the safe Labour seat with a 21,311 majority in 1997 after the previous sitting Labour MP, David Young was deselected by the constituency.

Dr Iddon had already spent 20 years as a Bolton councillor and had been chairman of the housing committee.

Electoral victories followed in 2001 with a majority of 12,871 and last year with a majority of 11,638.

"By the time of the next election I will probably be 69 or 70 meaning I'd be serving until the age of 74 or 75," he said.

"I see some of my colleagues struggling about in their 70s and 80s but I want to go while I'm still doing a good job, I don't want to fade away."

Dr Iddon has taken an interest in several issues during his time in the House of Commons.

He steered a Private Members' Bill through Parliament, which became The Marine Safety Act 2003; called for cannabis to be legalised and is a critic of the Government's policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

But Dr Iddon, who lives in Halliwell with wife Eileen, says his greatest achievements came before his election as MP, including the establishment of the Bolton Mediation Service to settle neighbour disputes and the Careline emergency service for elderly and disabled people.

A former Reader in Organic Chemistry at the University of Salford, Dr Iddon was famous for his spectacular Magic of Chemistry shows and is a member of The Science and Technology Select Committee.

He is promising to remain active as a volunteer when he retires but, as he was made an Honorary Alderman in 1998 he cannot return to local politics as a councillor.

Dr Iddon plans to spend more time with daughters Sheena and Sally and grandchildren Matthew and Abigail, as well as watching cricket, helping in the garden and collecting stamps.

But in the meantime, he says he has "unfinished business" and his current Registration Service Bill aims to give registrars of births, deaths and marriages the right to go to industrial tribunal if they are unfairly dismissed.

The decision to stand down as an MP was not an easy one, he said.

"I have agonised over this decision, which I have made with a heavy heart."

Kevin Meagher, Bolton South-east constituency chairman paid tribute to the MP.

"I have worked with Brian since he became a candidate in 1994, and was privileged to serve as his agent in last year's general election," he said.

"He is an incredibly hard-working MP both in the constituency and at a national level where he is widely respected for his diligence and expertise on science matters."

Bolton West MP and Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly, added: "Brian is a friend and valued colleague who has always worked incredibly hard for his constituents and I'm sure he will continue to do so right up until the next General Election.

"He will always be remembered at Westminster for his dedication and service to the people of Bolton."

Bolton North-east MP, David Crausby, said: "Brian is a very good constituency MP and will be a loss to the Labour Party.

"We did not always agree on policy but he put in an awful lot of work in Bolton and will clearly be missed."

Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, who served as a councillor alongside Dr Iddon, said: "Brian is a hard working MP who will be due a long retirement.

"Everyone is replaceable but he will be very hard to replace."

The constituency party will now write to local branches seeking nominations for Dr Iddon's replacement as candidate for the next election ahead of a one member-one vote selection process which may not be concluded until the middle of next year.