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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK

UK Politics

No way to break promise - Bell

Martin Bell beat Neil Hamilton (left) to represent Tatton

Independent MP Martin Bell has told of his attempts to find a way to honourably break the promise he made to sit in the Commons for one term only.

The former BBC foreign correspondent was elected to represent the former Tory stronghold of Tatton in the 1997 general election.

He defeated the disgraced cash-for-questions MP Neil Hamilton after campaigning on an anti-sleaze ticket.

'I made a promise'

At the time, Mr Bell said he would serve one term only as MP for the Cheshire seat.

Martin Bell: "The point is I made a promise"
But he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he had tried to find a way to get to stand again without betraying his original promise.

He said: "I've examined this conundrum from all possible angles and I can't see an honourable way to break a promise.

[ image: Martin Bell:
Martin Bell: "I'm having a ball"
"The point is that I made a promise ... and politicians should keep their promise."

A poll carried out in the Tatton constituency suggests 82% of voters would like Mr Bell to stand again.

The MP said: "I'm having a ball. I don't think I'd enjoy it if I had to take a party whip but fortunately I don't."

Mr Bell pointed out that he still had two years to serve as an MP "so it's a bit premature to get overly vexed about it now".

He said: "I think I was remembered for keeping a promise that wouldn't be too bad."

The Conservative Party has already chosen its candidate to fight the Tatton seat in the next election.

The candidate will be George Osborne, who is currently political secretary to party leader William Hague.

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