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Statistics pre-release consultation launched
The Treasury and Cabinet Office are today publishing Limiting pre-release access to statistics: a consultation document. This follows the Government's commitment to Parliament to consult publicly on the rules and principles for pre-release access to official statistics in their final form.
Limiting pre-release access is part of the parcel of reforms linked to the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007, which is the most substantial piece of statistics legislation for 60 years and establishes an independent Statistics Board to promote and safeguard the production and publication of official statistics.
The consultation document sets out how, as a part of the Governance of Britain programme of constitutional renewal, the Government is proposing to tighten the rules and principles under which pre-release access can be granted. These proposals include:
* limiting pre-release access to a strict maximum of 24 hours, reduced from up to five working days for certain statistics at present - as set out by the Prime Minister in July;
* requiring that pre-release access be limited to the minimum necessary number of people and the minimum number of statistics;
* requiring that, where pre-release access is granted, it be done in an open and transparent manner, with details of who gets what statistics documented and published; and
* once pre-release access to a statistic in final form has been granted, that statistic will be under embargo - meaning that its contents cannot be shared with others until the point of publication. As now, those granted pre-release access to statistical releases must not alter or attempt to alter the content or timing of those releases, or the way in which they are presented; and obviously pre-release access must not be used for personal gain, or for political advantage.
Consultation responses will be used to inform the rules and principles for pre-release access that will then be put to Parliament for approval by the Minister for the Cabinet Office.
The Government welcomes views on the proposals set out in the consultation document by 3 March 2008.
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