A BILL being steered through Parliament by Wyre Forest MP David Lock was "hi-jacked" by Tory shadow minister Ann Widdecombe.

Miss Widdecombe, shadow home secretary, and three colleagues are facing a reprimand after staging a "sit-in" which led to the suspension of the committee discussing the Criminal Justice and Police Bill.

Mr Lock, who is overseeing the Bill's passage through Parliament with Home Office minister Charles Clarke, described her actions as "an absolutely astonishing breach of the rules".

Discussions about the Bill, which sets out the Government's flagship pre-election law and order legislation, were due to be finalised last Thursday night before the dramatic interruption.

Accompanied by three Tory colleagues, Midd Widdecombe sat down in the committee room - prompting committee chairman, Roger Gale, to disband the meeting, jeopardising the Bill's chances of becoming law before the General Election.

Labour MP Mr Lock, who was present, said: "Four of them marched into the committee, sat down silently and refused to leave. I thought it was childish and immature."

Miss Widdecombe was protesting at insufficient time being given over to debating last-minute changes to the Bill.

Mr Lock, a minister in the Lord Chancellor's Department, said his main concern was getting the Bill "back on track".

"Ann Widdecombe breached the rules of the House, flouted the authority of the chairman and caused the committee to be adjourned," he added.

"The Conservatives are supposed to be the party of law and order and they can't even rise above the level of the student sit-in!"

The Bill is designed to give police more powers to issue fixed penalty notices, confiscate alcohol, close licensed premises when disorder breaks out and arrest kerb-crawlers.

Miss Widdecombe, MP for Maidstone and The Weald, said she was not challenging the House of Commons, but protesting at the Labour Government's "contempt" for Parliament.

The matter was reported to the Speaker of the House of Commons.