THE folks at BBC radio's Today programme have devised a splendid wheeze for the festive season. They invited their listeners to submit ideas for new parliamentary legislation which would be welcomed by the general public. Stephen Pound, the Labour MP for Ealing, has undertaken to try to introduce a Bill based on the most popular proposal in the House of Commons. Ten thousand listeners responded and yesterday a short-list of the five best ideas was announced for voting between now and New Year's Eve.

The project is called The Listeners' Law and has clearly caught the public's interest. The matters dealt with by four of the five short-listed proposals have been widely discussed in the media and elsewhere although without any positive response from the government; only one of the five is a completely new, and a rather dotty, idea.

The proposals are: 1. A Bill to ban smoking in all workplaces, to include bars and restaurants; 2. A two-clause Bill to limit the number of terms a Prime Minister can serve to two, and to make voting in General Elections compulsory; 3. A Bill to allow the use of all organs for transplant after death unless the individual has opted-out and recorded that decision on an organ transplant register; 4. A Bill to ban all Christmas advertising and municipal street decorations before December 1st; 5. A Bill to authorise homeowners to use any means to defend their home from intruders.

I would expect the Bills numbered 1, 3 and 5 to be most favoured in the final voting with the one for a smoking ban in workplaces perhaps winning in the end. This Listeners' Law project strikes me as rather more useful than the government's own Big Conversation campaign.