The National Assembly for Wales Commission has just issued a statement making it clear that the fate of the two disqualified Liberal Democrat AMs is about to be put in the hands of the returning officers.
Once they decide to fill the vacancies caused by the disqualification of Aled Roberts and John Dixon the matter will be closed. Eleanor Burnham and Eluned Parrot will have replaced them as Assembly Members.
The two men still have a slender hope. If the returning officers decide to wait until the Assembly has considered motions tabled today by the Liberal Democrats then they will be at the mercy of whether a majority of AMs will reinstate them.
Here’s the statement in full:
“We can confirm that two no-named day motions have been tabled under Section 17(3) of the Government of Wales Act 2006. The Motions would give Members the opportunity to vote on whether to disregard the disqualifications of either of the two Liberal Democrat candidates who are disqualified from being Assembly Members as a result of being members of an organisation listed in the National Assembly (Disqualification) Order 2010.
“As the motions will not have been considered by the Assembly before the end of this week, the Presiding Officer will have no alternative but to give notice to the two regional returning officers in question, that electoral region vacancies exist.
“Legal and practical constraints mean that there are limits, in this unprecedented situation, on the Presiding Officer’s ability to ensure that the Assembly has the opportunity to consider information to inform their consideration of the motions calling for the disqualifications to be disregarded. However, she regards it as her duty to do as much as she can, within those constraints, to make that opportunity available.
Consequently, at the same time as formally notifying the regional returning officers of the vacancies, she will draw their attention to the view of the Electoral Commission that it would be appropriate for the returning officers, before notifying her of the persons who are to fill the vacancies, to consult her on whether the Assembly intends to consider a resolution disregarding the disqualifications.
“Following the tabling of the no-named day motions, the Business Committee will decide, at its meeting on 8 June, whether and when to timetable the motions for plenary consideration. This is, of course, subject to any changes of circumstance which might arise in the meantime.
“In line with usual practice, Business Committee will agree a timetable for Assembly business for the following three weeks meaning that the earliest day when such a motion could be timetabled would be Tuesday 14 June and the latest Wednesday 29 June.”