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Bid to scrap God Save The Queen for English sports teams blocked

By PA Reporter

An MP's bid to replace God Save The Queen as the anthem for English sports teams has been blocked by the Government.

The Bill tabled by Labour's Toby Perkins calling for England to have its own national anthem for international fixtures - as the Welsh and Scottish do - was not debated because of a lack of parliamentary time.

An attempt to then push it through without debate failed after Government whip Steve Barclay objected.

Mr Perkins joined a choir to sing Jerusalem - the words originally penned by William Blake - on nearby College Green ahead of the scheduled debate.

The campaign was earlier dealt a blow after Rugby Football Union sources indicated they were "happy with the status quo".

Mr Perkins said: "I just think that for them to say there is no demand for it... I would be interested to know how they came to that conclusion. There has been considerable polling evidence since the Bill had its first reading, which suggests that there is a considerable amount of demand for the move."

Mr Perkins launched the campaign in January when he was joined by a group of high-profile Labour politicians for an impromptu rendition of Jerusalem outside the Commons. Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz, Labour front-bencher Jonathan Ashworth and Don Valley MP Caroline Flint followed suit when Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw struck up the well-known tune.

An e-petition that has gathered nearly 2,000 signatures argues that it is "time for England to have its own national anthem, to enable us to establish our English identity and support our role in the United Kingdom".

Just as the Welsh sing Land Of Our Fathers and the Scots sing Flower Of Scotland, there should be an "anthem for England", the petition states.

Asked whether David Cameron thought England teams should have their own anthem, the Prime Minister's official spokeswoman responded: "It is up to individual sporting bodies to decide what is played before the start of international contests."

Labour whip Conor McGinn asked for the proposed legislation to return to the Commons on March 11, on behalf of Mr Perkins.

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