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OPINION25 April 2012

Is a rethink needed on data access arrangements?

New Statistics Authority chairman Andrew Dilnot says he we continue pushing for a reduction in the amount of pre-release access ministers get to official statistics.

From today’s Independent:

“Government departments are breaking secrecy rules governing the handling of confidential statistics on average once every three months, the new head of the UK Statistics Authority has warned.”

Ministers currently get access to official statistics 24 hours before they are made public, with the government line being that such early access is necessary to allow ministers to respond appropriately when questions.

But Andrew Dilnot, who replaced Michael Scholar as Statistics Authority chairman this month, reckons that once every three months such statistics manage to find their way into the hands of unauthorised persons. This, he said, could facilitate insider trading, especially when it involves data that is market-sensitive.

Like his predecessor, Dilnot says he will push for a reduction in the amount of pre-release access that ministers get, which is something both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats wanted to see – before they were elected to government, that is.

Hat-tip: @JaneFrostMRS