MPs debate police commissioner elections "shambles"


There may be more glamorous venues than the Third Delegated Legislation Committee but there are worse ways to spend a Monday afternoon.

Today, MPs on the committee met to debate the draft Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Welsh Forms) Order 2012.

Without that order being passed by parliament (by Wednesday), ballot papers in those elections would be available only in English. (You can read more here)

Hence the rush to get the order through parliament - the Lords will debate it later tonight. The delay in passing the legislation will cost taxpayers an estimated £350,000 as returning officers have printed English only ballot papers as a contingency.

Labour home affairs spokesman David Hanson said ministers had promised to lay the order before parliament in May. "This was a shambles from start to finish," said the Delyn MP.

He wanted to know who was responsible. His list of potential suspects included Home Office ministers and officials and their counterparts in the Cabinet Office and Wales Office.

He didn't really get an answer from the (Welsh-born) Home Office Minister, Damian Green, who insisted it was not unprecedented for these orders to be passed shortly before elections.

He told Mr Hanson 2.3 million ballot papers were involved and that they would be dealt with securely. Presumably someone in the Home Office has a very large shredder.

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams warned that the initial lack of bilingual ballot papers could further reduce an expected low turnout. He said the elections held only "miniscule interest" among Plaid Cymru members.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn joined in the criticism of what he said was an insult to Wales, choosing to make his point in Welsh - only to be interrupted in Welsh by the committee chair Anne Main, who grew up in Cardiff before getting elected in St Albans.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said afterwards: "This is a complete fiasco wasting £350,000 and forcing somebody to stand over a shredder as they get rid of 2.3 million papers.

"But this is not a comedy, this is a serious issue and the Wales Office in particularly must have questions to answer".

The order now goes to the House of Lords, three of whose members turned up to watch the delegated legislation committee.

UPDATE: The order has cleared another potential hurdle in the Lords (more on that debate here tomorrow) and will now be formally approved by both Houses of Parliament tomorrow, 24 hours before the deadline for issuing postal ballot papers.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    They won't get in on my vote dig because I won't be. It is all wrong for this country and open to corruption.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    so what.

    who in wales cannot read english and only welsh?

    other than woodsey and mab, who would actually fill this form in welsh anyway?
    this is's not like there is going to be a big turn out anyway.How many police commisioners will get in off a handful of votes?most of them me thinks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Yes they do John they use it to swear at the Police. Oh and other lower Politicians to get them to do what they want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    ... no one has asked the most obvious question, "who exactly placed the order for the ballot papers ?"

    ... and there is an observation to be made:

    "Nobody cares about language at Westminster !"

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    No matter what you think about the language, the Westminster Government are surely breaking the law. Laws they brought in and implemented. That is at the worse illegal at the best incompetent, again. They are getting to be quite good at it now. I do believe we are treading on dangerous ground putting one political person in charge of the Police instead of an Authority. They will promise anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    This is Gov't incompetence at it's very best. Did they forget that the Welsh are a dual language country. Didn't they ever see Pobol y Cym when they were kids.

    Why does something that should be so simple need an Act of Parliament? Don't they have a little checklist that says "Are you in Wales?" "If yes, add some Welsh to your documents.".

    And the ultimate conclusion is higher taxes for everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Now Crossroads, just stop and ask yourself: what sort of irrational phobia have I got that I can't stand to see Welsh words on my bilingual voting paper? Even Mab doesn't object to there being English words on the paper for those that want them. To quote Mr Clegg you are a bit of a bigot aren't you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Not one of your best Lyn.

    "Bilingual ballots are the norm" indeed !

    So was hanging, the plague, and kids down pits.

    But you don't see any of that nowadays !

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    It seems ludicruous that UK MPs have to sanction Welsh language ballots for each individual election, but even more so that the Welsh Office seems to be so much more reluctant to exert the powers Westminster has retained thanr to interfere with those it has devolved!

    But when will the anti-Welsh lobby realise that their right to speak English does NOT include the right to a Welsh-free bubble?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Oh dear - all so predictable, there should not be a question of English only forms, Bilingual ballots are the norm, someone in government is at fault - mind you this is a totally meaningless election.. I still haven't decided whether to actually vote for someone or spoil the paper, and why are they not using AV rather than the basterdised form that is the Supplementary Vote?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    By the way, the clown Paul Flynn was completely wrong (as usual) when he pompously announced that "it was in insult to Wales"...

    I'm Welsh, (well British actually ! ) and felt delighted on hearing that English-only ballot papers were made

    We all speak English every one of instead of pandering to a tiny minority of sad alleged Welsh speakers...Come on, lets save some money for a change

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Of course we want an English only voting form !
    Just as Welsh speakers should want a Welsh only form by choice

    But no, we must have that ridiculous dual language nonsense...Why...because a choice of language would show up the pitifully small number who would choose Welsh !

    And we can't have anything which would show the TRUTH about the tiny (and falling) number of Welsh speakers, now can we ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Now we know they have been printed, I want an English-only voting form.

    I suggest that everybody else who prefers to live their lives in English demands the same as of right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I know one thing I won't be voting for something so important to be a Political job. Politics in charge of the Police will destroy it. It is an open invitation to corruption by big businesses and crime Lords. Oh and Politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    "... an insult to Wales", a meaningless expression from a politician who has lost his way.

    I would have thought the Wales Office would have questions to ask, not answer as Smithy believes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I think the whole Idea of a police commissioner is a load of poppycock whatever language is printed on the ballot paper although this is a major cock up by Westminster. Not much of an incentive for us to vote a for a load of past & present failed politicians in this English one size fits Wales experiment in controlling the police forces of Wales. Count me out of this shambles!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Don't they know the Laws of the land they Govern. Or are their brains onlly focused as far as the South East of England. But to them nothing exists outside of their little bubble.



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