benefits of having coherent UK-wide statistics are self-evident.
It is of course right that each UK administration should produce
statistics which reflect its local circumstances and meet the
needs of local users. Equally important, however, is that the
basic data which is needed at UK level is capable of being compiled
in a coherent form across the administrations, in order to ensure
that there is a set of UK-wide numbers, that this allows users
to compare and contrast the impact of policies in different parts
of the UK and that the UK is able to provide accurate figures
in accordance with its international obligations.
167. Based on
the evidence we have received, there are clearly problems with
gathering comparable UK-wide statistics. For
example, variations in the data collected as part of the 2001
Census resulted in what one witness described as "three different
censuses". Such problems
undermine any meaningful assessment of the success of devolution
because they make it difficult to measure the impact of differing
government policies implemented across the administrationsin
the fields of health and education, for instance.
168. We are
concerned by the apparent fragmentation of some statistics across
the UK. We recommend that the Government use the opportunity offered
by its present consultation process to examine what it can do,
both unilaterally and in co-operation with the devolved administrations,
to improve co-ordination of the collection and production of statistics
across the UK's different administrations. One step which the
Government could clearly initiate is a review of the 2001 Concordat
on Statistics, which sets out arrangements for the UK statistical
work agreed between the devolved administrations. We therefore
welcome the Minister's commitment, on behalf of the Government,
to review the Concordat on Statistics, particularly in light of
his suggestion that, while this fragmentation has been an issue
for some time because of differing local circumstances and requirements,
devolution has led to an inevitable intensification of the problem.
We recommend that the Government negotiate a revised Concordat
with the devolved administrations, that the National Statistician,
in consultation with the chief statisticians for Scotland, Wales,
and Northern Ireland, be given responsibility for drafting a revised
Concordat and that the new independent board be given responsibility
for monitoring the implementation of the revised Concordat.
In this context, we are encouraged by the 2011 Census agreement
signed by the three Registrars General of England and Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland.
it is important that the UK-wide scrutiny and audit function currently
undertaken by the Statistics Commission is adequately replicated
under the Government's proposals. We recommend that the new independent
board be given responsibility for oversight of the statistical
system throughout the United Kingdom.