Sunday, November 19, 2006

National Statistics

There is a great article by Liam Halligan in today's Sunday Telegraph (here) that examines the current role of official figures and the steps being taken by the Labour government. It makes for pretty grim reading. Here is a snippet:

What concerns me most is a practice called "pre-release" which allows ministers to see official data before it is made public. Most developed countries don't allow this. Of those which do, the United States gives ministers data 30 minutes before publication. In France and Ireland, it's an hour.

In the UK — uniquely — our ministers get to see official numbers at least 40 hours before publication, and in some cases no less than five days in advance.

This allows our rulers to issue their own press release at the same time as the official numbers are published. In other words, they can capture the news agenda — which, as Holt says, means "objective, independent, authoritative analysis of what is happening in our economy and society is simply swept to one side".

A national disgrace.

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