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Police and Crime Commissioner Elections: Indemnity for Returning Officers

Volume 608: debated on Thursday 21 April 2016

I have laid a minute setting out the Cabinet Office’s proposal to indemnify returning officers for the police and crime commissioner elections on 5 May 2016 against uninsured claims that arise out of the conduct of their duties. We will also provide a certificate confirming that we will bear any employee liabilities of the returning officer which would otherwise be covered by insurance procured under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. An indemnity was previously provided by the Home Office to returning officers for the 2012 police and crime commissioner elections and the Cabinet Office regularly provides indemnities for UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections. HM Treasury has approved the indemnity in principle.

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present to Parliament a minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from incurring the liability until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

Cabinet Office officials have been in discussion with HM Treasury officials and lawyers on the scope of indemnities of this kind and to ensure consistency between indemnities provided in respect of these and other polls. Thus it has not been possible to lay this minute before now. As a consequence, there is now a special urgency as the elections will take place shortly.