Using statistics as a drunken man uses a lamp post?

Nik Darlington 6.00am

I know for a fact that Nicholas Soames does not read online blogs (even Egremont - I know…) so he can’t have got the idea to ask this question from the article I wrote last week. It’s still spookily timely.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what recent assessment he has made of the quality of public statistics; and if he will make a statement.

Nick Hurd, parliamentary secretary for civil society, passed Mr Soames’ question on to Sir Michael Scholar, non-executive chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, who replied with this letter:

"The Statistics Authority has a statutory objective of promoting and safeguarding the production and publication of official statistics that serve the public good.

The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 requires the Authority to prepare and adopt a Code of Practice for Official Statistics, to use the Code of Practice to assess and determine whether the Code has been complied with in relation to any official statistics, and to designate those official statistics which have been assessed by the Authority as compliant with the Code as National Statistics.

The Authority also monitors the production and publication of official statistics and makes reports about any concerns it might have about quality, good practice or comprehensiveness of any official statistics.”

Lord Triesman’s tuition fees faux pas in the House of Lords isn’t an official statistic but coming from a peer of the realm, it carries no small amount of officiousness. I wonder what Sir Michael would have to say about the learned lordship’s maths.

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