As the Guardian reports here, Parliament will finally this week consider the secondary legislation to allow the printing of bilingual ballot papers in Wales. Trouble is, they start being sent out on Thursday so returning officers have had to print an English-only version as well just in case at a cost to taxpayers of £350,000.
There really is no excuse for this cock up.
When the substantive secondary legislation was discussed in Parliament back in June, Nick Herbert (the Policing Minister at the time) said the outstanding regulations (including explicitly the welsh forms order) would be “laid shortly”. See here for full details.
I alerted David Jones (Welsh Secretary) to the fact that this had not been done on 10th September. He failed to even respond but I raised it in person with Damien Green (the Home Office Minister) the following day and he assured me he was aware of the need for urgent action. The Electoral Commission published a report the same day highlighting the problem. Yet it was a whole month before the relevant order was laid. An emergency is a sudden or unexpected event; an unforeseen occurrence. This was neither – it was a ministerial failure to plan ahead.