Thursday, 4 March 2004

Questions (13)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

11 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has completed his consideration of the implications of the judgment of the Supreme Court given on 29 November 2002 in regard to the possible implications for legislation governing presidential, European and local elections; if amendments to the legislation are planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7134/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

The judgment referred to sets aside purported exemptions under the Electoral Act 1997 and has the effect that the cost of payments, services and facilities, which are met from public funds and available to candidates who hold elected office, are reckonable as election expenses to the extent that they are used for electoral purposes within the relevant election period. The 1997 Act had sought to provide an exemption for such costs.

It follows that costs met from public funds must, if used for electoral purposes in the forthcoming European elections, be included in candidates' returns of expenditure to the Standards in Public Offices Commission.

The court judgment has no implications for the local elections as expenditure limits do not operate in relation to these elections.

Presidential elections were not addressed in the court action concerned and were not included in the order of the court. However, I am reviewing the part of the Electoral Act 1997 which still applies to a presidential election. If amending legislation is required in relation to the presidential election, I intend that this will be addressed in the coming months.