Galloway in dock for signing motions while in the 'House'

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Indy Politics

George Galloway is facing a parliamentary investigation into how his name has been added to Commons motions since he has been locked up in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

The Respect MP has been widely accused of neglecting his electors in Bethnal Green and Bow by choosing to take part in the reality television programme which began nearly a fortnight ago.

He missed a Westminster debate on the Crossrail east-west railway link that would pass through his east London constituency, but his name has mysteriously appeared on a series of Commons motions.

Michael Martin, the Speaker, agreed to investigate yesterday and admitted that he had seen the episode of the programme in which Mr Galloway impersonated a cat.

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda, told the Commons that Mr Galloway was "not exactly present and in communicado", at the moment. But, Mr Bryant added: "He managed to sign early day motions last Thursday - 12 of them on the Order paper today - one of them for abandoned animals for Christmas. I don't know whether a cat was included.

"I wonder whether this is entirely in order for an MP who is not present, has no means of being in communication with this House, still to be able to sign early day motions." After a long pause, Mr Martin said, to laughter from the House: "I do watch Big Brother. I saw the one about the cat."

Mr Martin added: "I do know that some MPs give authority to another MP to put their name on such a motion. But I can't think of any Member who would do so in this instance. I will look into the matter. That's the best I can do and I will continue watching Big Brother in my spare time."

Labour, which was ousted from Bethnal Green and Bow at the general election eight months ago, has mounted an onslaught on Mr Galloway.

Hilary Armstrong, the Government's chief whip, has begun a petition calling on Mr Galloway to leave the Big Brother house and to return to the job of representing his constituents.

Mr Galloway's office has strongly denied that he has neglected his duties as an MP, insisting that surgeries were continuing to be held in his absence.

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