Euro-rebel tops ballot for private members' Bills

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Indy Politics
A LEADING Tory Euro-rebel came top in the ballot for Private Members' Bills yesterday. He is to introduce a measure seeking a more independent Bank of England.

Nicholas Budgen, MP for Wolverhampton South West, and a leading member of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, is to introduce a Bill calling for an 'autonomous' central bank like that in New Zealand. Although the Bill has little chance of becoming law it will force the Government into a full debate on the issue and its attitude to a European Central Bank in the event of a single currency.

Mr Budgen was one of the Tory rebels who voted with Labour and defeated the Government on 22 July on the Maastricht treaty. The top six MPs whose names were picked out of the ballot are guaranteed a day's debate on their choice of Bills. The remaining 15 MPs selected may steer Bills on to the Statute Book if they chose non-controversial subjects.

They include Teresa Gorman, the Thatcherite Tory MP for Billericay, and another Maastricht 'bastard', who reacted to John Major's attack on the 'bastards' by publishing a book of the same name.

Lobby groups, each with a draft Bill in their baggage, attended the ballot in committee room 10, and will be pressing the 20 MPs to take up their pet subjects. These include bans on tobacco advertising and fox hunting, and protection for hedgerows.

The Government also has a list of about 20 non-controversial Bills, which it hopes some of those on the list will take up. Subjects include protection of the London Marathon, environmental protection in the Antarctic, redundant churches, controls on chiropractors, and animal welfare.

The 20 MPs in ballot order are: Nicholas Budgen, Alan Beith (Lib Dem, Berwick-upon- Tweed), Kevin Barron (Lab, Rother Valley), David Lidington (Con, Aylesbury), Michael Jopling (Con, Westmorland and Lonsdale), Peter Atkinson (Con, Hexham), Roger Berry (Lab, Kingswood), Stan Orme (Lab, Salford East), Nigel Spearing (Lab, Newham South), Alan Williams (Lab, Swansea West), Keith Vaz (Lab, Leicester East), Gerry Malone (Con, Winchester), David Clelland (Lab, Tyne Bridge), Hartley Booth (Con, Finchley), David Harris (Con, St Ives), John Butterfill (Con, Bournemouth West), John McAllion (Lab, Dundee East), Sir Michael Grylls (Con, Surrey North West), Teresa Gorman (Con, Billericay), and David Porter (Con, Waveney).