THE leader of Lancashire County Council could face a fight with MP Peter Pike's daughter for the right to contest the Burnley seat at the next General Election.

Hazel Harding and Jane Pike are two of the names linked with the job after it was revealed the Labour Party may impose an all female short-list of candidates to replace Mr Pike, 65, after his retirement.

All female short-lists are seen by the national Labour Party as an ideal way of boosting the number of women MPs.

Mrs Harding, who lives in nearby Rossendale, said: "I do have a knowledge of Burnley and I have been a fan of their football club for may years.

"I know Burnley because I live two or three miles away in the Rossendale Valley.

"If I was to look at a parliamentary seat then I would have to feel there was a measure of support from the constituency party.

"I will wait to see what decision the local party makes, but being an MP is something I would consider -- I think anyone in my position would.

"It is for the members of the Burnley Labour Party to make that decision. I know there has been various names put forward over the past few years and that I am one of those names."

Jane Pike, 33, said: "It is not something that I have ruled either in or out yet. But if it does go to an all female short-list and there are no local candidates put forward I would think about it.

"I would prefer to see someone local take over the job. I think there are some specific concerns in Burnley that someone coming in from outside would not understand."

However, Miss Pike, a party worker in London, is opposed to the idea of an all female short-list. "I would never want to find out I was being considered for a job simply because I am female.

"I understand it is important to get more women into high profile jobs, but if I was chosen simply on gender and not because I was the best person for the job I think I would have a lot more to prove."

Speaking about the prospect of seeing one of his daughters take over as Burnley's MP Mr Pike said: "I have been an MP for nearly 20 years so she knows what the job is all about. I will give my support to whoever is elected as the candidate -- Jane is just the same as any other person in that respect."

Burnley Labour Party workers said other names linked with the job include Angela Donovan, the local constituency secretary, Kitty Usher, a special advisor to the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, and Kath Reid, former Burnley Council leader and the chair of the Lancashire and Cumbria Strategic Health Authority.

And vice chair of the Burnley Labour Party, Maureen Martin said she would not rule herself out of the running.

Angela Donovan, said: "I'll have to give it very serious thought. I'll wait and see the outcome of the all female short-list debate after which I'll give it more thought."

A meeting of Burnley Labour Party members will be held on Monday at the Democratic League Club to discuss Mr Pike's replacement after he announced his intention to retire after almost 20 years at Westminster.

Members will discuss the possibility of an all female short-list of candidates to replace him and a vote will be taken on the issue.