The Committee today published the Government's and the UK Statistics Authority's responses to its report "Public Trust in Government Statistics - A review of the operation of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007".
Commenting on the Government response to the report, Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"In this brief response, the Government has offhandedly rejected the important, central recommendation of our report that the Government hand responsibility for pre-release access to statistics over to the Statistics Authority. The current pre-release access arrangements present a risk to public confidence in the independence of the statistical system and undermine the intention and purpose of having an independent Statistics Authority. The Government’s response asserts that pre-release access by Ministers is necessary to allow ‘prompt commentary on statistics that is helpful in avoiding any misunderstanding in their interpretation’. I rather suspect that such interpretation of and commentary on statistics is precisely what causes concern about them. It may be precisely the different explanations, ‘interpretations’ of statistics that lead to the perception that statistics are worse than ‘lies and damned lies’.
“Statistics should be allowed to speak for themselves in the manner considered appropriate by the neutral, independent Authority created to oversee their production. The Government should accept the advice of the Statistics Authority on pre-release access as a matter of policy and should legislate at the earliest opportunity to transfer responsibility for determining policy on pre-release access to them."
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