Clause 18 - Chief electoral officer: duty to take necessary steps

Part of Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 16th July 2013.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 9:45 am, 16th July 2013

Members of the Committee will be aware that the way in which elections are administered in Northern Ireland is different from Great Britain. In Great Britain, registration and returning officers are employed by local authorities, whereas the chief electoral officer for Northern Ireland is a statutory appointee.

Clause 18 ensures that the chief electoral officer for Northern Ireland is subject to the same duty as registration officers elsewhere in the United Kingdom and I am sure that we would all agree with this measure. The Government monitor the performance of registration and returning officers in Great Britain and will do similarly in Northern Ireland.

These two consequential clauses are designed to move towards further normalisation in the Province so that the rules of the chief electoral officer in Northern Ireland will be similar to those of the returning officer in Great Britain. The Electoral Commission carried out a pilot in 2012 to 2013 of the process brought forward by this measure. I hope that the Committee agrees that clauses 18 and 19 should stand part of the Bill.