To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in defining terms and conditions of staff in the Northern Ireland electoral office.
The terms and conditions of service of staff employed to assist the chief electoral officer are explained in letters of appointment and for the most part are linked to those of the Northern Ireland civil service. Those terms and conditions of service are now being codified by the chief electoral officer.
Can the Minister explain why no grievance procedure is available for staff who wish to appeal and why certain electoral matters that require clarification appear to be decided arbitrarily, in a way which shows little regard for existing legislation?
The chief electoral officer is an independent officer and it would be difficult to provide for any external channel of appeal other than the courts, but I am willing to consider any proposals on how that might be achieved. I invite the hon. Gentleman to talk to me about any particular problem in that regard. These are important issues and I would welcome his advice and consultation.