European Parliament Elections

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th March 2014.

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Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

Wales Office Ministers have discussed the administration of the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament with both the Electoral Commissioner for Wales, and the cities and constitution Minister, my right hon. Friend Greg Clark.

Photo of Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Wales)

As the Secretary of State knows, the chief executive of Carmarthenshire county council is not at his desk because of a criminal investigation following a damning Wales Audit Office report into unlawful payments. However, he retains responsibility for the forthcoming European elections as local returning officer. Indeed, if memory serves me correctly, he was a deputy for the whole of Wales at the last European elections. Will the Secretary of State discuss urgently with the Cabinet Office the need for statutory protocol for removing electoral duties from public officials who are suspended from their everyday roles?

Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

As the hon. Gentleman says, an investigation is currently being conducted by the police. The Government’s priority is, of course, to ensure the smooth running of the European elections. The Cabinet Office is responsible for that and is keeping a close eye on the situation.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

There are currently 6.5 million people missing from the electoral register in the UK, and in the dry run, matching Department for Work and Pensions databases to local election registers, where others have an 80% hit, there are wards in Aberystwyth where only 18% of people are registered on the data crossover. What will the Minister do about that?

Photo of David Jones David Jones The Secretary of State for Wales

I am sure the hon. Gentleman would support the principle of individual electoral registration. The recent confirmation dry run matched 78% of electors across Great Britain, 79.9% across Wales, and in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency of the Vale of Clwyd it was 81.4%. I have faith in the process and I am sure that he should too. [Interruption.]

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Rt Hon John Bercow MP Committee, Chair, Rt Hon John Bercow MP Committee, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Rt Hon John Bercow MP Committee, Chair, Rt Hon John Bercow MP Committee

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber and it would be good if it would quieten down. I encourage the Secretary of State, whom I am sure wants his answers to be heard, perhaps to speak up a little.