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The need for new statistical legislation for the UK

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The paper is written to inform public discussion on whether or not statistical legislation for the UK is needed and, if so, on its nature and content. A brief account of the background to the current position is given. The Government's stated intention is to create an ‘independent statistical service’ and a discussion of the meaning of independence in the context of official stat- istics and governance arrangements is provided. Recent international experience is described and the Statistics Acts of some other countries are used to distil the key features of Statistics Acts in other countries. The arguments for and against possible legislation are described. Whether or not a Statistics Act is desirable for the UK depends strongly on the legislation being well framed. There are several key issues on which Parliament would need to develop an informed view and these are set out towards the end of the paper.

Keywords: Confidentiality; Independence of official statistics; Official statistics; Statistical integrity; Statistical legislation; Statistical policy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Southampton, UK

Publication date: 2003-10-01

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