Clegg: "PCC elections not my policy"

Nick Clegg looked to distance himself and his party from last week's disastrous police commissioner elections during deputy prime ministers questions today.

Harriet Harman described the elections as a "complete waste of money and a shambles", inviting the Liberal Democrat leader to defend the new posts but he appeared to disassociate himself with them.

"It wasn't my policy and it wasn't my parties either," he said.

"If she dislikes [the idea of police commissioners] so  much why did the Labour party stand candidates across the country?

"No-one forced her to put up recycled Labour ministers."

In a reference to John Prescott, who lost the contest in Humberside, he added: "It was not a good day for deputy prime ministers past or present."

Harman replied: "By the showing of his party in Corby it'll be more than a change of date to save his party. No one wanted these elections and they were a complete shambles."

Harman accused the Lib Dems of costing taxpayers £25 million for holding the vote in November rather than May to coincide with local elections.

Last week's vote has been roundly criticised as it attracted a turnout of less than 20%. There are 41 new crime commissioners for England and Wales with the power to hire and fire chief constables and set priorities for constabularies.

Clegg also faced an attack from David Hanson about the election of Winston Roddick who became PCC for North Wales after standing as an independent, only for it to be revealed that he used to be a member of the Lib Dems.

Hanson suggested commissioners should be included in plans to recall elected officials for gross misconduct and argued misleading voters about party membership should fall under this category.

The deputy PM suggested he was not aware that being a Liberal Democrats was against the law "just yet."