It would be hard to find a better example of why the legislative processes in London are unfit for purpose. In the first place, we have the revelation that a specific resolution of parliament is needed to enable bilingual ballots despite the fact that it has been established practice for decades, and in the second, the complete inability of the system to produce and pass such a resolution before the ballot papers were printed.
The result of this incompetence is that Returning Officers across Wales printed two sets of ballot papers, just in case the legislation was not passed in time, and will now have to pulp 2.3 million of them. There’s an environmental cost to that, as well as a not insignificant financial cost. It seems that £350,000 has been wasted on producing the two sets of ballot papers – and the politicians are blaming the government in general and the Home Office in particular for that wastage.
But hold on a minute – did those Returning Officers who had two sets of papers printed really believe that it was going to be acceptable to issue monolingual ballot papers? Despite all the advances in the use and visibility of Welsh in recent decades, one can only conclude that, yes, they really did believe that they would have been able to use English-only documents if the legislation had not been passed. If they had not believed that, then they would never have authorised the printing of two sets.
It says a lot about their understanding of where Wales is today. Time for some new Returning Officers, perhaps. Ones who understand the linguistic reality of contemporary Wales might be a good start.