And they're off...

The game's afoot! Today, with great ceremony, the Deputy Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, drew out the names of the 20 MPs who will have the chance to put a private member's bill before the House of Commons.

For those named, particularly the top eight, who're guaranteed a second reading debate on a Friday morning, today marks the start of a parliamentary adventure.

Within minutes, phones were ringing and e-mails were thudding into in-boxes, as dozens of pressure groups and not a few parliamentary colleagues began their attempt to get one of the winners to pick up their pet legislative cause.

The eight MPs who topped the ballot were:

John McDonnell (Lab)

Richard Ottaway (Con)

Barbara Keeley (Lab)

Gavin Barwell (Con)

Peter Aldous (Con)

John Hemming (LD)

Neil Carmichael (Con)

Sir Paul Beresford (Con)

Most will take a while to mull the options laid before them, but a couple already have a clear idea of what they would like to do, and others have long records of campaigning on particular issues.

John McDonnell - who won the last ballot in 2010, and the odds on that particular double are astronomic - plans a bill to require that Parliament approve the appointment of the governor of the Bank of England in future. The governor, he argues, is arguably at least as powerful as the Chancellor, and ought to have the stamp of Commons approval. He tried to insert a clause requiring confirmation hearings to be held by the Treasury Committee into the Finance Bill currently before Parliament - and won considerable cross party support. And he notes that the Treasury Committee has to approve the appointment and dismissal of the head of the Office of Budget Responsibility, which vets official statistics on the economy - and points to the fact that the current Governor is due to retire fairly soon.

Richard Ottaway - chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee - is on a fact-finding trip at the moment. But he headed the drive to get a Commons debate on assisted dying earlier this year, and might, perhaps, venture a bill to put the current Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on assisted dying into law.

Barbara Keeley is keen to offer a bill to provide advice to carers on the back-up services that are available to people looking after someone who's elderly or disabled. And John Hemming, who has run a long campaign against what he believes is undue secrecy in the courts, is considering whether a Private Members Bill would advance that cause.

Sir Paul Beresford - a former minister and whip - has used his mastery of the parliamentary arts to sharpen up the controls on sex offenders, pushing amendments to a series of bills over the years, and may offer a bill on that subject.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of MPs pushing their particular causes: the Conservative Charles Walker is keen to find someone to take up his bill to end discrimination against people who have suffered mental health problems - to allow them to serve on juries, as company directors etc. And Labour's Paul Farrelly wants a bill to cancel the impending changes to Commons constituencies, so that the existing 650 seats would not be culled to 600 - which could be rather appealing to MPs who dread the prospect of a bloody reselection battle with their neighbours. The whips should watch out for that one.

The experienced parliamentarians on the list will have a good idea just what the process they've now embarked upon will entail - in terms of extra workload and general angst.

On Today in Parliament on Friday, I'll be talking to the Conservative Rebecca Harris about her experiences when she offered a modest proposal to commission a study into putting the clocks back….which resulted in some startlingly vitriolic press attacks, and even led to reporters digging for (non-existent) dirt in her finances.

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