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Plaid Cymru MS hits out at lack of Welsh identity option on electoral registration form

10 Aug 2021 2 minutes Read
South Wales Central Senedd Member Rhys ab Owen. Picture by Plaid Cymru.

A Plaid Cymru MS has hit out at the lack of a Welsh identity option on an electoral registration from.

Rhys ab Owen, who represents South Wales Central, wrote to Cardiff Council to demand a Welsh option, only to be rebuffed.

He said it was “disappointing” after being told that electors can only select British as their nationality on the document, and that the council does not have the “legal authority” to amend it.

Councils have sent out the forms as part of annual canvass by the UK Government.

In response to the letter from the council he said: “It is disappointing that people living in Wales do not have the option note their nationality as Welsh on the electoral register.”

In a letter, Rebecca Light Operational Manager Electoral Services at the council, said: “As you’ll be aware the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) is required by the UK Government to send a canvass communication to every property in the local authority, annually during the annual canvass.

“The letter or form will list the information currently held for each elector at the property (including their nationality).

“In accordance with the British Nationality Act 1981 and as a British citizen, the nationality appears as ‘British’ on the canvass communication.”

‘Must be included’

It added: “The elector’s nationality must be included on this as the information is prescribed, and the ERO does not have the legal authority to amend the form.

“Therefore this is not a local authority decision and we are unable to amend electors nationality preference to Welsh. English. Scottish or Irish as required.”

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Mark
Mark
1 month ago

my daughter received a reminder from the NHS for her 2nd vaccination, it was accompanied by an A4 page with 20 different translations for contact information, nothing in Welsh?

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

With an English postmark? The most likely explanation is that there’s a civil servant in Whitehall who doesn’t know about devolution. I’m not being facetious: the NHS branding on your daughter’s letter is almost certainly a reference to a small administrative entity called “NHS England”, which replaced the NHS Commissioning Board on April Fools Day 2013. Your daughter will also get an appointment letter from NHS Wales, completely independently of the one from England.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

We won’t get arrested if we write “Welsh” in.

Hannergylch
Hannergylch
1 month ago

Being Welsh does not qualify anyone to vote. Until that changes, there’s nothing to be gained from telling the electoral roll custodians, because they can’t do anything with the information.

Moreover, owing to the Hostile Environment policy, it’s possible to be culturally Welsh without having UK citizenship (e.g. brought here from a former colony as a child). If Rhys ab Owen is saying that cultural identity should confer voting rights, then I’m with him; but he needs to explain his thinking in more detail.

Jack
Jack
1 month ago

The question is about citizenship, not identity. Legally, it’s an important distinction. Being a British citizen provides a specific set of voting rights, irrespective of whether you ‘feel’ British or not.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

Yes there is a difference between Statehood (a legal issue) and Nationality (a subjective issue). Although the term nationality is used for both. I feel Welsh and European, a subjective issue, but my Statehood is of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a legal fact regardless of how I feel about it.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

All the quotes in the article are about what officials may do, not about what voters may do. Who can vote in UK elections? is a very recent booklet in the House of Commons library. Paragraph 4.2 Nationality says: Citizens of countries other than the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth nations cannot register to vote for UK Parliamentary elections … electoral registration officers will process an application to register on the basis of the nationality that will give a person the highest level of voting rights. This implicitly means that Electoral registration officers should recognise that claimed Welsh, or Scottish, or… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard
Dyfi Dreamer
Dyfi Dreamer
1 month ago

This seems to be the case for electoral registration, where the specific question is citizenship, but everything else asks about identity (e.g. census). This feels like another lame attempt to confect outrage by pretending Wales and Welsh identity is somehow being ‘erased’ by this (it also erases English, Scottish and Irish identity if that were true).

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