Using a 10-minute rule motion in parliament, the Labour MP Toby Perkins proposed that a public consultation be launched to decide which song would be best. MPs agreed on Wednesday that the bill should be given its second reading in parliament in March.
While Scotland and Wales have their own anthems, England does not, and God Save the Queen is usually sung at sporting events when an English team is playing. Northern Irish sports teams also usually sing the UK national anthem.
“I would like to say at the outset that I am neither a republican, nor an atheist nor an English nationalist … Members should detect no hostility in me towards God, her majesty the Queen, to God Save the Queen or to the United Kingdom,” said Perkins, MP for Chesterfield.
“Indeed it is precisely out of respect to preserving many of these things that I believe the time has come to consider the question of an English national anthem.”
Perkins added: “The level of interest in this confirms to me that an anthem for England is a movement whose time has come and, as is often the case, it is for us in this parliament to catch up with public opinion and allow the voice of England to be heard.”
David Cameron has previously said that Jerusalem – the musical setting of a William Blake poem – would be his choice for an English national anthem.
Jerusalem has proved the most popular choice in recent polls, and was chosen to be played for English athletes competing in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi following a month-long public vote. Edward Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory often comes second in polls, and was used at the Commonwealth Games before 2010.
It was not the first time the issue has been heard in parliament. In April 2007 the Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland introduced an early day motion calling for English sporting associations to “adopt an appropriate song that English sportsmen and women, and the English public, would favour when competing as England”.
And in 2006 the Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski introduced an early day motion calling for Jerusalem to be given official status as the national anthem of England.
The 10-minute rule allows a backbench MP to make their case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes. MPs then vote on whether or not the bill should be introduced and, if successful, it goes on to have its second reading. Such bills rarely make it into the statute books