In New Zealand, the Government Statistician reports to the Minister of Statistics, currently Mark Mitchell. For about a decade, the UK has had a different system, where the National Statistician reports to the UK Statistics Authority, which is responsible directly to Parliament. The system is intended to make official statistics more clearly independent of the government of the day.
An additional role of the UK Statistics Authority is as a sort of statistics ombudsman when official statistics are misused. There’s a new letter from the Chair to the UK political parties
The UK Statistics Authority has the statutory objective to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good.
My predecessors Sir Michael Scholar and Sir Andrew Dilnot have in the past been obliged to write publicly about the misuse of official statistics in other pre-election periods and during the EU referendum campaign. Misuse at any time damages the integrity of statistics, causes confusion and undermines trust.
I write now to ask for your support and leadership to ensure that official statistics are used throughout this General Election period and beyond, in the public interest and in accordance with the principles of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. In particular, the statistical sources should be clear and accessible to all; any caveats or limitations in the statistics should be respected; and campaigns should not pick out single numbers that differ from the picture painted by the statistics as a whole.
I am sending identical letters to the leaders of the main political parties, with a copy to Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary.
We don’t have anyone whose job it is to write that sort of letter here, but it would be nice if the political parties (and their partisans) still followed this advice.