2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 2

No General Election

The Bill for the further prolongation of Parliament which had its second reading on Wednesday reminds us that the present Parliament is becoming a Long Parliament, with no termination of its existence at present visible. There are some who would like the country to face the ordeal of a General Election, in spite of the fact that we are in the midst of a total war. Mr. Morrison gave strong reasons why it should be avoided. It is certainly the case that the present House was elected on issues that are now almost forgotten and have no relevance to the problems of today. Again and again we hear comments on its staleness or on the un- reality of the debates, and the by-elections have assumed a character that they would not have assumed if the political parties were await- ing the clash of a General Election. Nevertheless, apart front the cogent considerations adduced by Mr. Morrison, it is difficult to see how a General Election could be held satisfactorily under present conditions. If it were fought on party lines, should we be treated to the extraordinary spectacle of members of the same Government going down to constituencies to make speeches against one another? If it were not fought on party lines, by what pro- cedure would candidates be nominated, and should we not tend to find the Government as a whole supporting one side against all the free lances or cranks on the other? Would it be fought on party issues which are in abeyance, or on the conduct of the war, so much of which depends, and must depend, on experts? If

there were overwhelming evidence of a profound, far-reaching dis- content with -the administration and with Parliament, which there is not, the remedy of a General Election might have to be sought. But it would be a desperate remedy. We must carry on with our Long Parliament.