LETTERS: Social trends in statistics

From Mr W. McLennan Sir: Rosie Waterhouse ("Attack on bias in official figures silenced", 26 January) is correct that any reputable government statistical agency has a responsibility for publishing statistical facts, uncomfortable as well as comfortable.Statistical agencies have to adopt an apolitical approach as well, because, in the words of the 1993 Open Government White Paper, official statistics "are fundamental ... to open government" and they allow "the impact of government policies and actions tobe assessed."

I decided not to publish Muriel Nissel's article on the history of social trends because it was strong on opinions, some of which in my view were political in nature. Opinions are not statistical facts.

You should be aware that the Central Statistical Office is entirely responsible for the contents of its statistical releases, which indeed demonstrates the integrity of our statistics. They are comprehensive in coverage and content, produced without fearor favour, and rank among the world's best. Social Trends 25 shows this admirably.

Yours sincerely, W. McLennan.

Director and Head of Government Statistical Service Central Statistical Office London, SW1