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18 October 1999

BUILDING TRUST IN STATISTICS - WHITE PAPER

"Enhancing the quality and integrity of official statistics is at the heart of our new proposals" Economic Secretary, Melanie Johnson said today when she published the White Paper Building Trust in Statistics.

The proposed new framework will include a stronger scrutiny role for Parliament, a new independent Statistics Commission and an enhanced role for the Head of the Government Statistical Service, who will become the 'National Statistician'.

Commenting, Melanie Johnson said:

"This White Paper marks a new era for official statistics. We are determined to address the long-standing concerns about the quality and integrity of official statistics and today we have set out details of a new, transparent framework which will address these concerns.

"The new independent Statistics Commission will draw on the views of users and producers of statistics and will act as the guardian of public interest in National statistics.

"These new arrangements will ensure that we enter the next century with a statistical service that is open and responsive to society's needs and which will deliver better and more reliable official statistics that command public confidence. With today's announcement, we are well on the way to rebuilding trust in statistics.

"In our view, quality must be at the centre of all that the official statistician does and all the facets of quality - relevance, accuracy, timeliness, clarity, coherence, accessibility and consistency - must be addressed." Building Trust in Statistics reflects the clear consensus which emerged from the extensive consultation exercise following last year's Green Paper Statistics: A Matter of Trust. It also takes account the review of the Average Earnings Index and the Office for National Statistics efficiency review, both of which reported earlier this year, and the report of the Treasury Sub-Committee on the ONS. This adds up to the most radical review of National Statistics for 30 years.

The new arrangements are expected to become fully operational for the financial year 2000-01. A document, The Framework for National Statistics, setting out the full roles and responsibilities of all the key positions under the new arrangements will be published later this year.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Full details of the new framework for official statistics are set out in the White Paper.

The White Paper (Cm 4412) is available from The Stationery Office bookshops and all good booksellers, priced £5.75. Telephone orders may be place on 0870 6005522. It is also available on the Internet at The Stationery Office website at the address below. A Green Paper Statistics: A Matter of Trust (Cm 3882) was published in February 1998 and is available from the same sources as the White Paper.

Steps will be taken to fill the post of National Statistician. He or she will take over the responsibilities of the Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), both with respect to the operation of ONS and as Head of the Government Statistical Service, and will have overall professional responsibility for the outputs that make up National Statistics and for their professional integrity. Applications for members of the Statistics Commission will be invited shortly. Appointments will be made in accordance with the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Media enquiries should be addressed to Francis McGee at the Treasury Press Office on 0207 270 5196.

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