NEWS18 March 2010

Stats Authority calls for cut to ministers’ early access to official figures

Government UK

UK— Government ministers will see their pre-release access to official statistics cut from 24 hours to just three hours if the watchdog body the Statistics Authority has its way.

The authority calls for the restriction in a review, published today, of the statutory arrangements governing access to official statistics.

Chairman Sir Michael Scholar (pictured) said: “The current 24-hours advance access by ministers and their advisers contains too many dark hours during which no-one can see what is happening.”

The Statistics Authority also wants to see an agreed ‘quiet period’ of one hour following the public release of official statistics “so as to allow the independent statistical report to receive public attention without competition from any political commentary”.

Scholar adds: “We believe that the recommendations in our report will minimise the opportunities for political influence or exploitation, and will help to build public confidence in the independence of the statistical system.”

The issue of trust and independence in the UK statistical system was the subject of a lively debate last month. Click here for our coverage of the event.