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 A/V REPORTS
The BBC's Shaun Ley
"Overall it is likely there will be fewer women"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Under starter's orders
Polling station
Thousands have registered as candidates
The deadline has passed for candidate nominations in the election campaign.

It will be some time before the full picture emerges - though more than 3,000 hopeful politicians are thought to have joined the race for the House of Commons.

But the total may fall below the record of 3,717 candidates entered for the 1997 general election.

Labour and the Conservatives will be fighting all but one of the 640 seats on the UK mainland.

The exception is the Glasgow Springburn seat of Speaker Michael Martin.

Independent campaign

The Conservatives have three runners in the race for seats in Northern Ireland.

The Liberal Democrats have named 639 candidates.

They are not fighting Springburn and have bowed out the Wyre Forest seat in Worcestershire.

Dr Richard Taylor, of Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern, is fighting an independent campaign against the downgrading of a local hospital and the closure of its casualty department.

The Scottish National Party aim to fight all 72 seats in Scotland, as do the Scottish Socialist Party.

Plaid Cymru have set out to contest all 40 constituencies in Wales.

Candidates need the signatures of a proposer and seconder as well as eight other electors.

And in order to save their 500 deposit they will have to poll at least 5% of the votes cast or forfeit the money to the Treasury.

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