12 NOVEMBER 1965, Page 9

Voting by Proxy `The toll of deaths from the present

fierce session of Parliament is not yet complete.'— pectator leading article, September 17, 1965. `Mr. Solomons . . . died in Westminster hos- pital. .. . In June he was given treatment at the hospital after a heart attack in the Commons. Since then he had attended Parliament only occa-: sionally.'—Sun, November 8, 1965.

The deaths mount. And what is the answer? The Socialist party claims that the solution lies in proxy voting: so that a man's vote can be numbered be he present or absent, conscious or unconscious. ,The Tories reply that the respon- sibility lies squarely on those who sought to tax Parliament beyond its strength; on a Government who aimed to govern with a majority of three as if it had a lead of thirty. The logic of this argument must lie with the Tories unless the House of Commons is content to proclaim itself fodder for the lobbies. the true answer is to have a general election. In the end, no doubt, public opinion will prevail. I have found myself often enough in disagreement with the Beaver- brook press, but on this issue it is leading the attack and it is surely right. For years the cry

has gathered strength that Members of Parlia- ment are ciphers, who follow the whip rather than their own conviction. There was little truth in this, but the coming of proxy voting will sadly lower the independence of a member. It is something up with which the British Public should not put.