Public Administration Select Committee: Press Notices

3 February 2009


The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) is to hear from the UK Statistics Authority and the Government about the lessons being learned following the disputed publication of statistics relating to knife crime in December last year.

At a session on Thursday 5 February at 10.00am in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, PASC will hear in turn from:

• Sir Michael Scholar, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, and Karen Dunnell, National Statistician

• Kevin Brennan MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (at about 10.45 am)

The session is likely to focus on the impact of the dispute on public trust in official statistics, and on possible tensions between the need to ensure that published statistics are accurate on the one hand and to keep the public provided with up-to-date information on the other. There will also be scrutiny of the analysis of the events published by the UK Statistics Authority (online at and the progress reported by the Cabinet Secretary to PASC (


On 11 December 2008, the Home Office published a press notice and fact sheet outlining progress made following six months of the Tackling Knives Action Programme. On 12 December, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority wrote to the Permanent Secretary at 10 Downing Street, expressing concern about the statistics used in the announcement, in particular one data set which was not yet due for publication and had not been properly checked. The statisticians who produced the data and the National Statistician had tried but failed to prevent its publication. On 15 December, the Home Secretary apologised to the House of Commons for the publication of this one data set. On 6 January 2009, alongside a new Code of Practice for Official Statistics, the Statistics Authority also published a note analysing the Home Office press release against the principles contained in the new Code, revealing numerous concerns, not just about the one prematurely released statistic but about a number of the figures in the Home Office factsheet and the way in which they were presented.

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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)

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