§ 3.7 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I beg to move that the Elections (Welsh Forms) (No. 5) Regulations 1970 be approved. These Regulations were laid on May 7, 1970, and by Section 171(5) of the Representation of the People Act 1949 they cannot come into force until approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament. The Regulations are part of a series which prescribe Welsh versions of forms used in connection with Parliamentary or local government elections in Wales and Monmouthshire. Under the Representation of the People Act 1949 certain forms were prescribed in Schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1969. Under the same Act and under the Welsh Language Act 1967 versions of these forms are now prescribed partly in English and partly in Welsh. They are, first, Form A, which is the return as to residence to enable the annual register of electors to be compiled; Form D, which is for the appointment of a proxy; Forms E and F, which are the official poll cards issued to electors and their proxies. The Representation of the People Regulation 1969 was subject to Affirmative Resolution, and as the present Regulations are made under the same powers they are also subject to Affirmative Resolution. The Welsh Office, and also representatives of the electoral registration officers have been consulted about the form of these Regulations.
Form A is the most complex of the forms. It has to be completed by every householder in the country and great care is taken to make it as simple and clear as possible. The Representation 1062 of the People Regulation 1969 provides the prescribed form or forms—such forms substantially to the like effect may be used with such variations as the circumstance may require, and in fact minor changes are made each year to take account of experience gained the previous year. The Welsh version will of course follow suit. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Elections (Welsh Forms) (No. 5) Regulations 1970 be approved.—(Baroness Phillips.)
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that clear explanation of these Regulations, which I very much welcome. I am quite sure that they will enable many Welsh-speaking Welshmen to vote for the Conservative Party which, after all, was the Party which established the original Hughes Parry Committee on the legal standing of the Welsh language.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, if it only enabled Welsh speaking Welshmen to vote for the Conservative Party there would not have been much need for the forms, but representing the Party which will have, I hope, a much greater use for these forms, namely, the Liberal Party—making great headway, I may say, in parts of Wales—I should like to ask one question. We appear to be running pretty tightly on the time scale, because this Order comes into operation 14 days after it is passed by this House. If that is so, will the forms, particularly Form D, be available to those who want to use them in Wales in this particular Election, which as we now know is to be held on the 18th of next month?
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I should like first to thank both noble Lords for welcoming these Regulations, and at the risk of also entering the political arena to say that it took a Labour Government to introduce the Welsh Language Act. That was a very historic landmark. One noble Lord approached me and asked whether "Welsh forms" referred to the figures of Welsh ladies. He was disappointed to learn that they were only election forms. The reply to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is that the forms that are available will be used. I hope that answers his question, but, if not, I will see that he is given something more adequate.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.