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.

David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • 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.

  • 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 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 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.


Comments 5 of 17



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