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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
MP's marathon speech blocks bill
The bill was aimed at protecting groups such as the Scouts
A Labour MP spoke non-stop for three hours in the House of Commons on Friday to block a bill aimed at protecting volunteers.

Hendon MP Andrew Dismore produced the marathon effort in opposition to a bill from a Tory MP.

That bill would prevent "unreasonable" lawsuits against volunteer groups organising adventure activities.

Mr Dismore's effort is the longest Commons speech since one made last year - also by Mr Dismore.

The volunteer's bill, sponsored by Canterbury MP Julian Brazier, would introduce risk certificates showing safety standards for certain activities had been met.

Mr Brazier had put forward amendments to the bill in an effort to placate its opponents.

'Compensation culture'

Opening Friday's debate, Mr Brazier warned of the impact of the "compensation culture" on volunteer organisations.

"Too many adults are deterred from volunteering by the threat of litigation," he told MPs.

He said the bill's opponents were trying to kill it off, but vowed not to give up campaigning for a change in the law.

Andrew Dismore (left) and Julian Brazier
The Commons record for a single speech is said to be a six-hour effort from Henry Brougham in 1828
Labour's John Golding spoke for 11 hours in 1983, though it was before a committee and he was allowed to stop for meals
Former US senator Strom Thurmond spoke for 24 hours in 1957 against a civil rights bill
Another former senator famously brought in oyster recipes to read, while another turned to a phonebook
Mr Dismore 181-minute speech labelled the proposals as "ill-conceived", "vague" and "badly-worded".

He said it failed to cover the real causes of a lack of volunteers, such as paid time off work.

Debate on the bill was still continuing when time ran out, sending it back down the list of backbench measures to be discussed and making it unlikely to pass this Parliament.

After his speech, Mr Dismore told BBC News Online he stood by his actions.

"I'm not apologetic at all," he said. "I don't think it's right to allow people to kill, maim and injure children. Somebody has to stand up for the victims in all this."

He said he could have spoken against the bill for longer.

"I pulled up stumps after about three hours. There were one or two other people who wanted to say something," he said.

Mr Dismore broke his own record for the longest speech in recent parliamentary history - in March 2003 he spoke for 150 minutes against a Conservative bill on pension annuities.

17 Aug 00  |  E-G
Andrew Dismore
22 Oct 02  |  Politics
Julian Brazier
18 Oct 02  |  Politics

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