To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions in the last five years the publication date of statistics produced by his Department has been changed; what the (a) subject of the statistics, (b) (i) original and (ii) final date of publication and (c) reason for the delay was in each case; and who took the decision to delay the publication in each case.
In accordance with the National Statistics code of practice (2002), the head of profession for statistics in DEFRA has sole responsibility for determining, pre-announcing and, if necessary, altering the dates of publication of 'National Statistics' and other relevant statistics produced by the Department.
Any decision to change a pre-announced publication date will be based on a range of professional considerations such as the completeness of the underlying data, their fitness for purpose, the need for consistency and coherence, the need to promote widespread access and informed debate, or any earlier accidental or wrongful release. In reaching their decision, the head of profession will also take into consideration the detailed procedural guidance given in the 'National Statistics Protocol on Release Practices'. The code and its 12 supporting protocols are available in the Library of the House, and can also be accessed using the following address:
This Department has no comprehensive historical record of the occasions on which the head of profession changed a pre-announced publication date in the last five years.