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Pre-release Access to Economic Statistics (Committee Bill Proposal)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th September 2019.

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Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

A s the convener has mentioned, the cabinet secretary made an alternative proposal. That pragmatic approach, which the committee referenced, would retain public confidence in economic statistics and provide Scottish and United Kingdom ministers with limited and tightly controlled PRA to statistics.

I will lay out the wider context now, and when I sum up, I will address members’ specific points.

Pre-release access is the norm: all UK Government departments other than the ONS have kept PRA. The ONS sits at arm’s length from Government, so it is quite different from the chief statistician.

I want to make it clear that there is nothing inappropriate about pre-release access to official statistics. It is in line with legislation. People receive early access only if the person responsible for producing the statistics considers it necessary and legitimate, it is not contrary to the “Code of Practice for Statistics” and it is standard practice that is not limited to ministers. For example, the Scotland Office, local authorities and others receive pre-release access where appropriate.