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Police and Crime Commissioners

Volume 551: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2012

1. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on preparations for elected police and crime commissioners in Wales. (122185)

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the dedication and professionalism of Dyfed-Powys police and all the other agencies involved in the search for April Jones, who went missing on 1 October. I am sure that the whole House will join me in praising them for their continued work to find April and in praising the support shown by so many of the people of Machynlleth for her family.

The Wales Office and the Home Office have been working closely with the Welsh Government and partners to make the police and crime commissioner reforms a success in Wales. Considerable progress has been achieved through the Wales Transition Board.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his new job. Will he let us know how much printing the second set of ballot papers for the police commissioner elections in Wales will cost the Home Office?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her welcome. As the House will know, the order for the bilingual version of the forms was laid on 15 October, and it is hoped that the process will be completed by 30 October. On the question of cost, I shall write to her.

A serious potential problem has been averted over the preparation of voting papers in the Welsh language. Will the Secretary of State engage with the Welsh Language Commissioner to ensure that the commitment to bilingualism in Wales is fully respected in all non-devolved areas, where the problem arose?

Yes, the Wales Office is committed fully to the Welsh language and its support, not only in the devolved areas but in the un-devolved ones. I am pleased to report that my office is working closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner, and indeed it is proposed that an official of the commissioner will be embedded in the Wales Office.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a great proponent of the Welsh language, but I urge him to ensure that in all aspects and in all avenues of work within the Palace of Westminster the Welsh language is given the respect it so rightly deserves. I hope that this type of thing is not going to happen again.

The hon. Lady has identified a problem that needs to be resolved, in that the Welsh Language Commissioner is, of course, a position that was created by the Welsh Assembly. It is important that in the non-devolved areas sufficient support should be given to the Welsh language, and I am pleased to report that my office is prepared and anxious to undertake that duty.