1 OCTOBER 1948, Page 4

It is, I take it, the function of the Liberal

Party to keep nicely poised between the Conservatives on the one hand and Labour on the other. On occasion they achieve the nicety a merveil. Take the Parliament Bill, for example. In winding up for the Conserva- tives last week Mr. Nigel Birch mentioned that on the first Second Reading of the Bill 6 Liberals had voted against and 2 for it. He predicted that this time 6 would vote for and 2 against. He was almost right ; actually 5 voted for and 2 against. Meanwhile Liberals in another place had been trimming the ship with equal adroitness. When the Liberals in the Commons voted by a majority against the Bill the Liberals in the Lords voted for it ; when the Liberals in the Commons changed their minds and voted for it the Liberals in the Lords promptly took the hint and forthwith voted anti. " This way and that dividing the swift mind," Tennyson once wrote. There is a beautiful symmetry here, like the strokes of a reci- procating engine.

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