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Volume 455: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) whether there are restrictions on political activity included in the contracts of additional advisers appointed to the main political parties; (113731)

(2) whether additional advisers appointed to the main political parties are eligible for (a) support from officials in, (b) accommodation in property used by and (c) office facilities provided by the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

The four main political parties represented on the Assembly’s Programme for Government Committee have been offered additional support under the Financial Assistance to Political Parties Act (NI) 2000 specifically in connection with the substantial work of that Committee. The Assembly scheme determined under the Act provides that those additional advisers shall act in accordance with any guidance issued by the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Guidance is presently being prepared which will cover the issue of political activity during the Assembly election period.

I am arranging to place in the Library of the House the letters sent by the Secretary of State to the leaders of the four main parties, which set out details of the facilities that have been offered to them.