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Backbench bill puts EU referendum back on the agenda

The legislative wheels for an IN/OUT referendum are once again being cranked into motion today.

Following a ballot of backbench MPs this morning - the Conservative member Bob Neill was awarded third place - which means he has the opportunity to present to Parliament his own piece of legislation.

Tory MP Bob Neil was awarded third place in the bill ballot this morning. Credit: PA

Fortunately for him - he won't have to spend too long drawing up a new Bill.

He has confirmed he will re-introduce the same EU Referendum Bill which one of his colleagues had attempted to take through Parliament last year.

David Cameron will take any opportunity to reinforce to voters that he is serious about offering a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

He has promised a vote - the first since 1975 - by the end of 2017 if he is Prime Minister after the next election - irrespective of whether there is another coalition.

Another Conservative backbench MP James Wharton tried to introduce the referendum bill after coming top in last year's Private Members' ballot.

David Cameron has promised a vote by the end of 2017 if he is re-elected as Prime Minister. Credit: PA

But his legislation ran out of time after being talk out of the House of Lords by Labour and Lib Dem peers.

The difference this time is that the referendum bill would qualify for the Parliament Act if the House of Lords gave it the same treatment.

That means the will of the elected House of Commons would override the decision of the largely appointed House of Lords.

So with a fair wind at his back, David Cameron might actually succeed in having his referendum guaranteed in law before the next election.