Stop ministers seeing official stats early – MPs
Ministers should no longer be allowed privileged early access to official statistics, a Commons Committee argues today.
A report by the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee warns that the system whereby ministers are sent sensitive releases – including GPD figures – from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 24 hours before they are made public risks undermining confidence in official statistics.
"It is not appropriate that ministers should have lengthy prior access to certain statistics but other interested parties do not," it says.
The Commons committee, which is chaired by the Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, urges the Government to introduce legislation to scrap the pre-release system "at the earliest opportunity".
The recommendation will be welcomed by the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot, who is charged with overseeing the work of the ONS. Mr Dilnot has argued on several occasions that pre-release is damaging and should be dismantled.
The night before the ONS's first estimate of GDP growth for the final quarter of 2012 were released last month, George Osborne and David Cameron were photographed in a restaurant in Davos, Switzerland, apparently in a good mood, leading some to the assumption that the pre-released figures must have been decent. In the event they showed that the UK economy declined by 0.3 per cent over the three months.
The committee also argues that there is a potential clash between the Statistics Authority's two functions of being responsible for the production of official statistics and also regulating their quality. It recommends that there should be a "greater physical separation" of the workplaces of the regulators and the producers.
One of the responsibilities of the head of the Statistics Authority, which was established by the 2007 Statistics Act, is to correct ministers when they make misleading claims regarding official figures. In December Mr Dilnot rebuked the Coalition for claiming that health spending had increased in real terms since 2010. Mr Dilnot, responding to a complaint by the Labour Party, concluded that there had been a small fall in real spending. And this month Mr Dilnot warned politicians to avoid mixing up debt with the deficit after the Prime Minister claimed, erroneously, in a party political broadcast that the Coalition was "paying down Britain's debts".
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...