10 APRIL 1964, Page 12

Uncomfortable Seats I noticed that Mr. Wilson, in his most

measured manner, taunted the Government for not holding by-elections in any of the seats now vacant. There seemed to be a further strong argu- ment here in favour (from the Government's point of view) of an early election. It would wipe the by-elections out of the calendar—to the real re- lief of the constituencies concerned and the great convenience of the Government. I can think of few things less likely to set Lord Blakenham singing in Central Office than the prospect of a fresh batch of by-elections. Yet an October general election seems to imply this dreadful thing. The alternative can only be to disfranchise these constituencies for an embarrassing period. It is only by convention that the writ for a by- election is normally moved by the Chief Whip of the party which last won the seat. Any Member may move it after a reasonable time. In these cir- cumstances, I can think of quite a number of Labour Members who would be delighted to do so. It is the sort of exercise Mr. Foot, say, or Mr. Silverman, would relish, thus putting the Tories to the ludicrous performance of voting down the writs and so blocking by-elec- tions in constituencies which had already been disfranchised for too long. Not dignified, or comfortable. And it could happen day after day.