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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 12:24 GMT
Backbench MPs' law-making chance
Houses of Parliament
The ballot is an annual Parliamentary event
Tory homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer has topped the ballot for private members' bills.

The first 20 MPs' names pulled from a hat are given Parliamentary time to put forward a law of their choice.

Normally only the first six or seven names chosen in the ballot have a serious chance of getting their bill through the Commons and Lords.

But with an election widely expected to take place in May 2005 it will be even more difficult to get a law through.

Abortion law

Nigel Evans, a Tory party vice-chairman, came second in the ballot with Labour's Stephen Hepburn third.

Top 10 in the ballot
Patrick Mercer
Nigel Evans
Stephen Hepburn
Julie Morgan
Kevin Barron
Kevan Jones
Sir Paul Beresford
Michael Weir
Marsha Singh
Gerald Howarth
A high profile example of a private members' bill was the 1967 Abortion Act sponsored by David Steel.

Recent examples of private members' bills include Hamilton South MP Bill Tynan's bid to crackdown on fireworks and an attempt to ban fox hunting by Worcester City MP Michael Foster.

And last year Labour's Kevan Jones managed to get his Bill banning shops from opening on Christmas day into law. Then, as with this year, he came sixth.

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