Clause 58

Part of Statistics and Registration Service Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 25th January 2007.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 1:30 pm, 25th January 2007

Once again, the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire tempts me, but I must say that my principal purpose in serving my constituency and in government is not to find a place in history. That is a matter for others.

I say to the hon. Member for Braintree that what is wrong with the amendment in the name of his hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet is precisely what was wrong when we discussed the matter in detail earlier. His desire to increase parliamentary scrutiny of the system should be satisfied by the provisions in the Bill. They give Parliament the potential to play a much more active role. Again, we have discussed that at some length.

On the idea of a parliamentary commission for official statistics, I have said before that statistical production is essentially an Executive function and most appropriately located within Government, rather than Parliament. Statistics are a public good and serve a wide range of users. That view was supported during consultation and by the Treasury Committee report earlier this year. In addition, we considered and rejected the proposals published by the Conservative party. We looked to international experience and systems, and the only country in the world that we could find where the statistics system is the responsibility of the legislature, not the Executive, is Mongolia.