Public Administration Select Committee: Press Notices

24 March 2009

PASC TO EXAMINE LESSONS OF MIGRATION STATISTICS DISPUTE

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) continues its examination of the new independent system for official statistics, by hearing from those responsible for the release in February of migration and workforce statistics, and those who have subsequently raised concerns about the way in which these statistics were published.

At a session on Thursday 26 March at 10.00am in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, PASC will hear in turn from:

• Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Home Office and Jonathan Sedgwick, Deputy Chief Executive, UK Border Agency

• Lord Rowe-Beddoe of Kilgety, Deputy Chair, UK Statistics Authority, Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, and Richard Alldritt, Head of Assessment, UK Statistics Authority (at about 10.45 am)

Background

On 11 February, two weeks earlier than expected, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) issued figures on UK-born and non-UK-born employment. The following day, the Times carried a story that “ministers were ‘fizzing’ with anger, accusing the ONS of a political act designed to embarrass Gordon Brown over his ‘British jobs for British workers’ soundbite”. The Chair of the UK Statistics Authority then wrote to the newspaper, stating that “Whether you call it naivety or openness, statisticians must be encouraged to publish independent and objective statistics, not pilloried for doing so”. On 24 February, the ONS published migration statistics, which attracted substantial media interest. In early March, Phil Woolas MP claimed that the ONS was “playing politics” and that the justification used by the ONS for releasing figures out of schedule (that they were ‘topical’) was “at best, naïve, or, at worst, sinister”. Later in the month, the UK Statistics Authority (which regulates official statistics across government) published a report on the ONS release of 11 February, stating that “the decision to bring forward the News Release from the planned publication date of 24 February to 11 February was taken for legitimate reasons”, but criticising certain aspects of the way in which it was published.

For more information about the work of the Committee, visit our website at: www.parliament.uk/pasc

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee Membership: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Charles Walker (Con) (Broxbourne), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, 020 7219 0724, bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk

Specific Committee Information: Email: pasc@parliament.uk Tel: 020 7219 3284

Committee Website: www.parliament.uk/pasc

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