UK Politics

Police elections: Welsh ballot paper decision 'shambolic'

Ballot box
Image caption Elections will be held next month

Preparations for next month's police and crime elections in Wales have been called a "shambles" after it emerged an estimated £350,000 worth of ballots papers are likely to be shredded.

Peers approved plans to print bilingual ballots in both Welsh and English on Monday, 48 hours before a deadline for sending out postal ballots in Wales.

Ballots written only in English will now have to be thrown away.

Labour said thousands of pounds had been spent on "creating waste paper".

But ministers said it was not unprecedented for similar legislative orders to be approved shortly before elections and the same had happened in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

Voters will go to the polls across England and Wales on 15 November to elect police and crime commissioners to replace existing appointed police authorities.

Ministers said they were committed to ensuring "full parity" between English and Welsh languages on ballot papers in Wales.

But Labour and Plaid Cymru said it was ridiculous that the matter had come to Parliament for approval so late in the day and that ministers had initially intended to seek their approval in May.

"With the passing of this order, allowing the use of bilingual ballot papers, the English ballot papers already printed will be thrown away - £350,000 spent on creating waste paper," said Labour peer Lord Touhig.

Lib Dem peer Lord Roberts said it was "a shambolic way" to undertake any sort of election. "The ballot papers are supposed to be going out within the next 48 hours," he said. "It is beyond my comprehension."

For the government, Lord Taylor said the cost of the ballot papers would be met from the £75m budget for the elections.

Earlier, at a meeting of the Third Delegated Legislation Committee, policing minister Damian Green said that 2.3 million English language only ballot papers would be "dealt with securely".