Select Committee on Treasury Second Report


19. In our 1998 Report, we said that there was a strong case for the development of National Statistics to be enshrined in legislation.[55] The Royal Statistical Society echoed this conclusion, telling us during this inquiry that "legislation is necessary to underpin the principles and practice of National Statistics".[56] The oral evidence we heard in November 2000 has confirmed our initial opinion that legislation is necessary, particularly because we detected a lack of clarity in some aspects of the Framework document.[57] Legislation would establish more clearly the specific responsibilities of Ministers, the National Statistician, the Statistics Commission and others in relation to National Statistics, and guard against political interference and backsliding in future. The Statistics Commission has been asked to review the case for legislation in two years.[58] The National Statistician told us that he would prefer to operate under statutory arrangements, which he described as a "very effective working environment".[59] It is absolutely essential that the new arrangements for National Statistics should be enshrined in a Statistics Act. If the Statistics Commission concurs with our opinion in two years' time, we expect Ministers to bring forward legislation as a matter of priority.

55   ONS Report, paragraph 51 Back

56   App 3, section 7 Back

57   See paragraph 7 re. the roles of the Statistics Commission and the National Statistician with respect to the scope of National Statistics Back

58   Framework, paragraph 4.2.5(i) Back

59   Q236 Back

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