§ Mr. Fitt
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will seek to amend the law to clarify the 335W respective responsibilities of the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland and district councils in relation to public accountability for moneys spent in holding local government elections in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Prior
The law on this matter is clear. Under section 23(3) of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962, as amended, all expenses properly incurred in relation to the holding of a local election are payable by the local authority concerned. Under section 23(7) of the Act the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, as returning officer, is required to submit to that local authority a detailed account of the expenses incurred by him, supported by vouchers for payment.
Duties which a district council clerk carries out in connection with local elections are functions of the Chief Electoral Officer which have been delegated to the clerk in his statutory capacity as deputy returning officer. Accounts kept by a clerk in relation to elections to a council are therefore in law the Chief Electoral Officer's accounts and not those of the district council.