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?
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.
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?
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.]
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.
The hon. Gentleman is always heard; we do not need any more volume from him.