HC Deb 11 December 2000 vol 359 cc57-8W
Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on members of staff of the Electoral Commission who are members of political parties having access to confidential financial information relating to other political parties; if the Electoral Commission will disclose to political parties that members of its staff with access to confidential financial information about those parties are members of another political party; and if he will make a statement. [141477]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The Electoral Commission was established on Royal Assent of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. The Commission is wholly independent of the Home Office and, more generally, of the Government of the day. Questions relating to the way the Commission carries out its statutory functions should accordingly be directed to the Chairman of the Commission once he has been appointed and, in the interim, to the Commission's Chief Executive, Roger Creedon. The Commission's address is:

  • First Floor
  • Trevelyan House
  • Great Peter Street
  • London
  • SW 1P 2HW.

Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the interim solutions considered by his Department on access to the electoral register together with his estimate of the cost of each solution and the reasons why each solution would not provide value for money; and if he will make a statement. [141479]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

We considered one interim solution put forward by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA). This would have involved registration officers sending their registers (together with the monthly updates under rolling registration) to a contractor who would create and maintain a central electronic register. A second contractor would then have provided access to the data to political parties and the Electoral Commission via a secure intranet or internet route. The key difference between this approach and the proposed permanent solution is that under the permanent arrangement access would be to the locally held registers, obviating the need to send copies to a central point and thereby ensuring the data are always up to date. The estimated cost of this interim solution was £440,000 a considerable sum for a solution with only a limited shelf-life.

This proposed interim solution would have been a considerable IT project in its own right with all the attendant risk. In particular, there was no certainty that the necessary contractual arrangements could be made, the technical issues resolved and the data supplied in time to enable the arrangement to run from February.

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