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Guidance notes to civil servants on their role and conduct

General Election 2010

Previous election guidance

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/civil_service/elect...<

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Most constituencies have bowed to pressure to start counting votes immediately after polls close in the general election on 6 May.

A campaign was launched to "save election night" after it emerged up to a quarter of the 650 constituencies may not begin counting until the next day.

Former MPs said delays may ruin the traditional drama of the occasion and "undermine" confidence in the process.

Fewer than 5% of counts will now be delayed, the Electoral Commission said.

Up to 25 constituencies are not expected to begin counting until 0900 BST on 7 May, 11 hours after polls close at 2200 BST the previous night.

But with recent opinion polls suggesting the possibility of a hung Parliament - where no single party has an overall majority - this may be sufficient in number to mean the eventual result is not known until late on 7 May.

It has also raised concerns about the security of ballot boxes being held in locations overnight. The BNP have suggested it could lead to vote tampering.

LATER COUNTS<
The following constituencies are not expected to start counting their votes until 0900 on 7 May at the earliest:<
Argyll and Bute, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Blyth Valley, Broadland, Buckingham, Cheltenham, Copeland, Henley, Hexham, Huntingdon, Kenilworth and Southam, Lancaster and Fleetwood, Morecambe and Lunesdale, North East Hampshire, Norwich North, Oxford West and Abingdon, Penrith and the Border, Saffron Walden, Skipton and Ripon, St Ives, Torridge and West Devon, Wansbeck, Wantage, Warwick and Leamington, Westmorland and Lonsdale<

Historically, it has been up to returning officers in individual constituencies to decide when to hold their counts.

Many local authorities, which administer the counting process, had been erring towards Friday counts because of the added cost of asking people to work through the night and the difficulty of collecting and counting postal ballots in time.

Under laws passed within the past 10 days, they are obliged to begin counting votes as soon as practically possible within four hours of polls closing.

Those which do not meet this deadline are required to explain why to the watchdog although there are no sanctions for failing to do so.

'Changed mind'

The Electoral Commission said the new requirements may have prompted some councils to alter their arrangements. "Some of those who said the next day did change their mind and bring it back," a spokeswoman said.

Wokingham Borough Council in Berkshire, among those to make a late decision, said this was due to "the passing of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, which states we must take reasonable steps to start the count within four hours of the polls closing".

Those constituencies still planning to hold counts the following day include Buckingham, the seat being contested by the Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Bercow, whose rival candidates include UK Independence Party MEP Nigel Farage, is among those to have backed the campaign to preserve election night.

He has argued it is important for public engagement in the election and Parliament's reputation - eroded by the expenses scandal - for as many people as possible to be able to watch the results come in.

But councils have said there are sound logistical reasons for some areas - particularly large rural constituencies where it can take time to transport ballot boxes - to begin their counts on Friday morning.

Aylesbury Vale District Council said there was no venue large enough in Buckingham to hold the count and it would have to wait until Friday as the count for the separate constituency of Aylesbury had to be completed first.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8625597.stm<

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PENS and paper for public servants are costing taxpayers £850million a year.

Astonishing figures released yesterday underline how billions are squandered by Labour.

The Conservatives – who vow to save £6billion in spending if they win Thursday’s election – say the office ­supplies bill alone could be cut by £238million a year.

Even the Government quango which is supposed to ensure value for money in Whitehall procurement is paying over the odds for a standard 500-sheet ream of A4 photocopier paper, point out the Tories.

And a confusing array of framework deals mean departments barely flex their purchasing power muscle to get value for money.

If savings to the paper bill were applied to the whole office services budget, the Conservatives say the total £2.4billion bill could be slashed by £672million a year – the equivalent of hiring 25,000 more police officers, or cutting 9p duty off every pint of beer and cider sold in Britain.

Tory Cabinet Office spokesman Francis Maude said: “Labour ministers can’t even run an office, let alone a country.”

Government potentially has huge purchasing power, but only half of Whitehall spending last year was done through joint and bulk buying.

The Tories calculate that moving to a single contract could save 28 per cent on the average departmental spend.

Mr Maude said: “Labour’s failure to buy copier paper at a decent price means there is no hope of them delivering complex IT and defence projects at competitive prices.

“There is a clear choice at this election – Conservatives who will ensure value for money, or five more years of Gordon Brown wasting your money.”

The figures follow expert analysis in yesterday’s Daily Express suggesting that well over £100billion a year could be slashed from public spending without damaging service quality if only Britain was efficient as America and Japan.

David Cameron says he will save £1 in every £100 the Government spends, to fund cancellation of Labour’s National Insurance hike, or “jobs tax”, next year.

But the analysis by the European Central Bank suggests Britain could save at least £16 out of every £100.

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliott said: “Other countries show how it can and should be done.

“If economists calculated that there was 16 per cent inefficiency halfway through Mr Brown’s spending spree, it is likely to be closer to 20 per cent now – the size of the Treasury deficit.

“This doesn’t mean any Government can rely on waste savings to solve the national debt after May 6.

“But we can pre-empt a Greek-style bond crisis.”

The Conservative figures showed the average paid in Whitehall for a 500-sheet ream of A4 photocopier paper was £2.08. The least paid was £1.48, by the South West Regional Development Agency.

The Buying Solutions quango – which monitors Whitehall procurement – pays £2.23 a ream, while even its own parent department, the Treasury, pays £1.71.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme, which promotes recycling, pays most of all, at £3.29, followed by the Yorkshire Regional Development Agency at £3.20.

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency pays £2.40 a ream; the House of Lords £1.65 and the Commons £2.15.

A Labour Party spokesman said last night: “We will continue to improve efficiency in the procurement of goods and services by getting government bodies to club together for bulk buying.

“Looking to the future, across all areas of government, value for money with less waste and less bureaucracy will be a top Labour priority.”

http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/media/2010/05/daily-express-scandal-of-...

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