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General Elections

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether any expenses incurred by returning officers in undertaking a general election count immediately following the closure of the polls are considered to be reasonable additional expenses for which they may be reimbursed by the Government. (319436)

Returning Officers will be entitled to claim for charges necessarily incurred for the efficient and effective conduct of the election, up to the maximum recoverable amounts set out in an Order made by the Secretary of State (“the charges Order”). The maximum recoverable amounts in the charges order, which we are in the process of finalising, include an element for costs in conducting the verification and the count.

The amounts we have calculated for that element are based on estimates of the time taken to count the number of ballot papers expected to be returned in that constituency and an hourly rate of pay which takes into account the possibility of working at unsocial hours.

There is provision for the Secretary of State to authorise more than the maximum recoverable amount in a particular case provided that it was reasonable for the Returning Officer to incur the charges and the level of the charges in question is reasonable. Accordingly, any claim made by a returning officer for an additional payment above the maximum recoverable amount in connection with undertaking a count immediately after the poll has closed will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis.