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Published on May 3, 2013
On 4 May 1961, the Bristol South East by-election took place. The seat was vacated by Tony Benn MP when his father Viscount Stansgate passed away, which meant that Benn inherited the peerage which disqualified him from being a Member of the House of Commons.
Despite the disqualification, Benn fought and won the by-election on 4 May 1961 but an Election Court overturned the result on petition and his Conservative opponent, Malcolm St. Clair, was declared elected. St. Clair gave an undertaking to vacate the seat if a change in the law allowed Benn to be re-elected.
Benn had long campaigned to change the rules which prohibited individuals from rejecting hereditary titles and was integral to the passing of the Peerage Act 1963, which made provision for the renunciation of a peerage.
St. Claire duly resigned in 1963, Benn renounced his peerage and was re-elected to the House of Commons for Bristol South East at a by-election on 20 August 1963.
Tony Benn was first elected for Bristol South-East at a by-election in 1950 and was a Member of Parliament for over 40 years, retiring at the 2001 General Election.
In 1998 the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art commissioned his portrait to be painted by Andrew Tift. Watch as Hilary Benn MP interviews his father Tony Benn and artist Andrew Tift about their memories of the portrait sitting.
Since painting Benn's portrait, Andrew Tift has gone on to win a number of portrait awards including First Prize at the BP Portrait Awards (2006).
The Parliamentary Art Collection holds over 8,000 works of art including many portraits of the men and women who have contributed to political life in the UK. For more information visit: http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/c...
Sources: The Times Guides to the House of Commons 1951, 1955, 1959 and 1964 British Parliamentary Election Results 1950-1973, compiled and edited by F W S Craig, Parliamentary Research Services, 2nd edition, 1983