§ Mr. McNamara
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his estimate is of the total cost of postponing the Assembly elections; and how this sum is made up. 
§ Mr. Paul Murphy
Payment to registered parties and candidates to reimburse expenditure which may have been incurred in connection with the election which was to have taken place on 29 May could total up to £4 million. The cost to the Electoral Commission of administering this scheme will be up to £50,000. The Electoral Office estimates that they have incurred costs of £67,000 as a result of the postponement of the election. All these costs will be met from the UK Consolidated Fund.
§ Mr. Browne
The Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections and Periods of Suspension) Bill is currently before the House. The purpose of the Bill is to postpone the date of the poll for the election of the next Northern Ireland Assembly from 29 May 2003, and to provide a mechanism for setting the date of the next poll.
As at 9 May the Chief Electoral Officer had spent approximately £250,000 on the Assembly elections. Around £183,000 of this expenditure has been spent on material which can be used at the next Assembly election. The Chief Electoral Officer had estimated the total cost of the elections due to take place in May at £3 million. This does not take account of other costs arising from the postponement of the election including reimbursing political parties and candidates.