Midland MP Richard Taylor has joined forces with Labour rebels to challenge the Government's plans for a partial smoking ban, amid signs they may be allowed a free vote on the issue.
Kevin Barron, Labour chair of the health committee which attacked the proposals last month, last night tabled an amendment which would lead to a blanket ban.
Signed by nine members of the committee, including Dr Taylor (Ind Wyre Forest), it would remove an exemption for pubs which serve food and for private clubs.
Mr Barron said: "The Government is considering giving Labour MPs a free vote on this amendment. I hope they do.
"If carried, our amendment will greatly strengthen that part of the Bill which aims to protect the public from the dangers of second hand smoke.
"Since 1997 this Government has come a long way towards controlling the harmful effects of tobacco use and this is another milestone towards the improvement of public health."
Backbenchers who want a blanket ban met ministers and whips today in the hope of securing a free vote on the Health Bill.
Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared to hint at the weekend that that could happen.