Clause 58

Part of Statistics and Registration Service Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:45 pm on 25th January 2007.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 1:45 pm, 25th January 2007

I, too, look forward to hearing the Minister’s response to that question.

The Minister’s final point to counter the amendment was that statistics are an executive function of government. They are certainly important for the operation of government, but regardless of whether one sees them as strictly part of an executive function, that in itself is no reason why a parliamentary Committee cannot be in charge of the budget, whether or not statistics are part of the executive functions of government. How is that relevant in deciding which organisation should determine the budget and what the structure should be?

The Minister was disdainful of the model we propose, which he said had no precedent anywhere in the world apart from Mongolia. Although the Leader of the House advocated that model, a couple of minutes after referring again to the Mongolian example, the Minister went on to say that he is breaking new ground. When we challenged him on the structures proposed earlier in the Bill about the mix of executive and scrutiny functions he said that there was no parallel and that the Government were doing something completely different. International models to match our proposal may be limited, but he was unable to find any other model, either in the UK or across the world, that matched the structure that he proposes.

I am still disappointed that we have not had more detail on how the five-year funding formula will work. The Minister said that there will be a transparent formula, but who will set it? When will Parliament know what it is? Will it be subject to variations and modifications? Will it be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and, if so, what sort of parliamentary scrutiny? Many questions are left unanswered, and I shall seek to divide the Committee on the amendment.