The UK Parliament is set to lose one of its most tech-savvy politicians and IT champions at the forthcoming general election when Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan stands down.
Allan has been MP for Sheffield Hallam since he was first elected in 1997 and as Liberal Democrat spokesman on IT and joint vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group, he has taken an active role in challenging the Labour government on many key technology issues.
But Allan has had enough of the busy life of a Westminster politician and will not be standing for re-election in May.
Speaking to ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com in the middle of packing up his boxes in his Parliamentary office, Allan said he will be continuing his unpaid work as a visiting academic at the Oxford Internet Institute aimed at bridging the gap between political policy-makers and academics.
In the long term he hopes to return to his IT roots, and said he would like to get involved with the NHS IT modernisation programme in some way.
One of Allan's last campaigns as an MP was leading Liberal Democrat opposition to the national ID card Bill, which Labour ditched after running out of legislative time before the election — although Home Secretary Charles Clarke has promised to re-introduce it.
"I think we did make a difference on ID cards. It was clear there was discomfort on all sides about it and I think the minister lost heart during the Bill," Allan said.
And what will Allan miss most about being an MP? "The gossip," he said. "It will be strange being on the outside."
ZDNet UK will be publishing the full interview with Allan, including his views on computer crime laws, ID cards and the government's record on IT, in the run-up to the general election.