Threat to name gay MPs

BRITISH MPs face yet more potential sexual scandal this week with militant gays threatening to name homosexual MPs publicly if the age of consent for gay sex is not reduced to 16.

The Commons votes on the issue tonight, with polls showing that most people do not want the age of consent for gay sex reduced that far. The current age is 21.

People who want the age lowered to 18 outnumber by three to one those who want 16 to be the age of consent.

Outrage, a militant gay lobby group has threatened to name 60 gay MPs - slightly under one in 10 of the Commons membership - in a move condemned by MPs yesterday as blackmail.

They intend to complain to the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, that it could be contempt of Parliament.

The change in the age has been prompted by former minister Edwina Currie in an amendment to legislation, but it seems likely that many MPs will abstain.

Meanwhile, Commons researcher Emily Barr - named as a lover of ministerial aide Hartley Booth - told her story in the tabloids yesterday, saying how Mr Booth was a considerate lover.

She told of sex romps in Commons offices - saying that Mr Booth would only stop to go to vote.

Separately, hard-left Labour MP Dennis Skinner was revealed as having a secret affair with his American House of Commons researcher, 47-year-old Lois Blasenheim.

He was said to spend alternate weekends with his 61-year-old wife Mary at his home, a semi-detached house in Derbyshire, and spend the other weekends with his researcher at her Chelsea flat.

Mr Skinner is known as one of the most principled men in the Commons.

He is described in one biography as the ''unyielding, incorruptible, puritanical, abrasively proletarian conscience'' of the hard left.

The MP told newspapers to leave him alone yesterday, saying: ''Our private lives are our own affair.'' Prime Minister John Major is expected to continue with ''back to basics'', the campaign which has prompted the recent dirt-digging by the media, despite polls showing the public do not want it.

More than half the public - 57 per cent - feels the project has backfired and should be abandoned, according to a poll for The Sunday Times yesterday.

Senior Tory backbenchers now view the campaign as something of a joke but one of Mr Major's advisers insisted the Prime Minister would continue.

The Pope yesterday blasted a European Parliament resolution that homosexual couples should be allowed to marry and adopt children, saying such a resolution could not ''legitimise a moral disorder'', Reuters news agency reported.