Annual Review of UK Statistics Authority Casework 2021/22

20 October 2022
Last updated:
20 October 2022

Annex B – Parliamentary discussions of casework

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OSR Intervention  Date of mention  Where mentioned   Details 
Mid-year population estimates  17/05/2021  Queen’s Speech  Lord Shipley 8.28:

‘Secondly, have the Government got their demand forecasts right? I ask because the Office for Statistics Regulation has recently been critical of the Office for National Statistics for its population forecasts, which in some places seem much too high. What is the Government’s response to this conflict of evidence?'
Use of statistics in Judicial review reform  26/10/2021  Judicial Review and Courts Bill  Anne McLaughlin MP 4.23: 

‘We have heard much talk about the Government’s justification for taking away those rights, which appears to be the high volume of applications versus the low number of successful outcomes, but let us look at that. The evidence to support the Government’s position was so flawed that the Office for Statistics Regulation decided to investigate and found that the real success rate was at least 15 times higher than the Government figures showed. When the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) mentioned that, I saw the Secretary of State laughing, as if that was a derisory amount, but if we use the figures calculated by the Public Law Project, we see that that would amount to 40 people every year being incorrectly denied their right to appeal in cases where, as we have heard, the stakes can be incredibly high.’ 
Use of statistics in Judicial review reform  04/11/2021  Judicial Review and Courts Bill (Fourth Sitting)  Andy Slaughter MP 4.15: 

‘As we have already touched on, IRAL’s recommendation to reverse Cart judicial review was based on the 0.22% figure, but I think it is now generally accepted that that figure was seriously flawed. The criticism of that figure attracted the support of the Office for Statistics Regulation, and the Government have now accepted it: their own analysis suggests that at least 3.4% of cases are successful, a figure 15 times higher than IRAL originally estimated. However, that figure is also not universally accepted, with the Public Law Project estimating that success rates for Cart JR are considerably higher. I know that there are a number of figures flying around, but I think quite a persuasive case was made for the figure of around 5%. I think the variation stems from IRAL’s misunderstanding of how to calculate success in Cart JRs, as well as procedural complexities that mean that they are rarely accurately reported.’
Use of statistics in Judicial review reform  09/11/2021  Judicial Review and Courts Bill (Fifth Sitting)  Anne McLaughlin MP 10.15: 

‘The justification given by the Government for ousting Cart and Eba in Scotland is the high volume of applications versus the real number of successful outcomes. Let us look at that. The evidence to support that position was so flawed that the Office for Statistics Regulation launched an investigation. It found that the real success rate was at least 15 times* higher than the Government’s figures. Why did they use those figures in the first place? Was it because they knew that if people understood just how many people it does affect, they might have less sympathy with their position?’

* OSR did not state that the real success rate was at least 15 times higher than the Governments figures and we wrote to Anne McLaughlin MP in April 2022 to correct her.
Statistics on NRPF  19 January 2022  Work and Pensions Committee - children in poverty: no recourse to public funds    Correspondence between OSR and the Home Office was mentioned during the Work and Pensions Committee evidence session on children in poverty and No Recourse to Public Funds, where the difficulties of determining the precise number of people with the condition attached to them were discussed.   

Mr Timms asked when the updated casework system would be introduced in the Home Office, referring to Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) correspondence with the Home Office, quoting Ed Humpherson’s letter from September 2021. Ms Samedi said she did not know and would write to the Committee.    

Mr Timms further quoted Mr Humpherson’s letter: “it would be helpful if the Home Office would make public its plans for developing the published statistics.” He asked for an update on these plans. Ms Samedi said that she didn’t have a definite answer on when or if those plans will be made public. She said that in addition to looking at their own international database to see what further information they may glean from it, they will look at census data when it comes out and work with DWP on their Family Resources Survey, as well as third sector organisations.    

Mr Pursglove said he could not commit to publishing a plan. He acknowledged that there are challenges around collecting data in this area and that it is difficult to aggregate relevant complex circumstances. He added that Home Office analysts are working on building up more data and is working with the ONS to work on gathering reliable data to build an accurate picture, and that it is an area he is “genuinely interested in”. He added that it is difficult for the Home Office to know how many people have NRPF status as people come and go often and the nature of immigration is fluid and constantly changing. He repeated that they are looking at what more they can do around census data to inform their work. 
Covid prevalence in Scotland  25 January 2022  Scottish Parliament - plenary    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP mentioned Sir David Norgrove’s letter to Willie Rennie MSP, who wrote to the Authority regarding Ms Sturgeon’s claim made to the Scottish Parliament on 20 January , that:    

“the Office for National Statistics figures this week show that infection levels in England are over 20 per cent higher than those in Scotland. I do not think that it is a competition, but if Douglas Ross wants to make these comparisons, there is the data.”    

Quoting Sir David’s letter, she said that:    

“Mr Norgrove, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, says in his reply that I ‘correctly stated that the figure for England was more than 20 per cent higher than the figure for Scotland’. But he goes further than. While acknowledging that there are other equally accurate ways to cite the statistics he concludes as follows: ‘the data does suggest that the rate of infection is lower in Scotland than in England’.”    

She said that, in her mind, how Scotland is faring relative to others is not the key comparison and that she hoped all members would “accept the conclusions of the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority that the data I cited was indeed accurate”.    

Later, Siobhian Brown MSP called on Mr Rennie to apologise to Sir David for “wasting his time”. Ms Sturgeon answered that it is vital to show integrity and accuracy when citing statistics, and that it was reporting her to the “chief statistician” was “uncalled for”
People in work  02/02/2022  Points of Order  Justin Madders MP 4.19:

  ‘On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Are you aware of a letter from the UK Statistics Authority to the director of data science at 10 Downing Street regarding claims made by the Prime Minister that there are more people in work now than there were at the start of the pandemic? In the letter, the UKSA points out that that claim is incorrect and there are in fact 600,000 fewer people in work than at the start of the pandemic. 
I am mindful of what was said by Mr Speaker earlier and that accusations of deceit do not enhance the reputation of this place, but this claim has been made by the Prime Minister on 24 November, 15 December, 5 January, 12 January, 19 January and again today. I believe that the public have a right to expect what is said by the Prime Minister at the Dispatch Box to be truthful and accurate. Have you received any notification of an intention from the Prime Minister to correct the record?’
Crime statistics    03/02/2022  Committee on standards: Members’ Code of Conduct Review  Wendy Chamberlain MP 4.56:

  ‘On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On 31 January, during the Sue Gray update statement, the Prime Minister said the Government 
“have been cutting crime by 14%”.—[Official Report, 31 January 2022; Vol. 708, c. 24.] 
I understand the Prime Minister took that information from a Home Office news release, which in two places presented the statistics to give a positive picture of trends in crime in England and Wales based on a fall in total crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, of 17%. 
In a letter sent to my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael), the UK Statistics Authority confirmed that, if fraud and computer misuse are counted, as they should be, total crime in fact increased by 14% between the year ending September 2019 and the year ending September 2021.  I seek your guidance on how we can get clarity on those remarks from both the Prime Minister and the Home Office.’
Crime statistics    04/02/2022  Prayers  Sarah Jones MP:

‘On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I want to raise comments made on Monday by the Prime Minister, who I believe inadvertently mislead the House. On Monday 31 January, the Prime Minister said in this place that 
“we have been cutting crime by 14%”.—[Official Report, 31 January 2022; Vol. 708, c. 24.] 
Again on Monday, he said: “What we are actually doing is cutting crime by 14%”.—[Official Report, 31 January 2022; Vol. 708, c. 50.] 
The Prime Minister was referring to the national crime statistics, which were published on 27 January. 
In a letter to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael), the UK Statistics Authority said that  “the Prime Minister referred to a 14% reduction in crime, which is the change between the year ending September 2019 and the year ending September 2021. This figure also excludes fraud and computer misuse, though the Prime Minister did not make that clear. If fraud and computer misuse are counted in total crime as they should be, total crime in fact increased by 14% between the year ending September 2019 and the year ending September 2021.” 
The ministerial code states: 
“It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.” 
It seems clear that the Prime Minister inadvertently mislead the House, and I would be grateful for your advice, Mr Speaker, on how he might at the earliest opportunity correct the record.’
Crime statistics  07/02/2022  Points of Order  Yvette Cooper MP 4.46:

‘Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I thank you for that clarification, but given that, in this particular case, we have not only the facts from the ONS but the statement from the head of the UK Statistics Authority—which mean that the Prime Minister needs to correct the record—if there is no response from the Prime Minister or from the Treasury Bench, no explanation, no correction, no change to what they have put on the record, and given what “Erskine May” says, what are we supposed to do?’
Crime statistics  08/02/2022  Points of Order  Yvette Cooper MP 1.19:

‘On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I rise to ask again whether you have had any response from the Prime Minister after the UK Statistics Authority said that the statements that the Home Office, and subsequently the Prime Minister, made on crime were misleading. “Misleading” is not my word—it is the word of the independent chair of the UK Statistics Authority. The Prime Minister told the House 
“we have been cutting crime by 14%”—[Official Report, 31 January 2021; Vol. 708, c. 24.] 
The Office for National Statistics found instead 
“a 14% increase in total crime, driven by a 47% increase in fraud and computer misuse”. 
I raised yesterday “Erskine May”, resolutions of the House and the ministerial code, which all record the importance of the Prime Minister correcting the record at the earliest opportunity. This is five days on from the Statistics Authority’s comments. Do you have any guidance on what counts as “earliest opportunity”, as this does not feel like that? 
The ministerial code also expects Ministers to abide by the Statistics Authority code of practice which says that people must be “truthful, impartial and independent” in their use of statistics. Given that the Statistics Authority, whose job it is to be independent, impartial and truthful, has said that the Government are being misleading, surely it is now a matter of basic respect for the House and the standards that we all signed up to about not misleading Parliament that the Prime Minister should give us a response.’
Crime statistics    09/02/2022  Police Grant Report  Sarah Jones MP:

‘Total crime went up 14% over the past two years—contrary to what the Prime Minister said in this place last week, for which he has been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority. As we heard earlier in Prime Minister’s questions, there are 14,000 cases of fraud every day—although the Prime Minister and the Government do not count them as real crime. Arrests are down and prosecutions are at their lowest levels. Just one in 50 burglaries result in a charge and, shamefully, only 1.3% of reported rapes lead to a charge. Criminals are getting away with it.’
Crime statistics    People in work  10/02/2022  Business of the House  Clive Efford MP 11.26:

‘The UK Statistics Authority has written to the Government because the Prime Minister used the wrong figures when he talked about crime being down by 14% when it is in fact up by 14%. The Government have similarly been written to about the use of unemployment statistics that neglect to include people who are self-employed, the number of whom has dropped by 700,000 to 800,000, so there are in fact fewer people in employment, contrary to what the Government say. Will the Leader of the House undertake to investigate all the Ministers, including the Prime Minister, who have misinformed the House, albeit inadvertently, on those statistics and ensure that they come back and put the record straight, as they are required to do?’
People in Work  23 February 2022  PRIME MINISTER’S QUESTIONS- USE OF EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS  Sir David Norgrove has written to the Prime Minister as a result of this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, where the Prime Minister incorrectly stated that employment is higher than at the beginning of the pandemic, to clarify that this is not true.

In this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP repeated the claim that ‘There are 430,000 more in employment now than there were before the pandemic began’. Since this statement, Sir David Norgrove has written to the Prime Minster to clarify that

  ‘it is wrong to claim that there are now more people in work than before the pandemic began: the increase in the number of people who are on payrolls is more than offset by the reduction in the number of people who are self-employed’. 
People in Work  16 March 2022  COMMONS - PRIME MINISTER’S QUESTIONS  At Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir David Norgrove’s letter to the Prime Minister regarding employment statistics was mentioned by the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee. Stephen Timms MP said:

“Three weeks ago, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove, wrote to the Prime Minister to point out that his repeated assertion that employment is now higher than it was before the pandemic is incorrect. Yesterday’s employment statistics show 840,000 fewer self-employed people now than before the pandemic and that overall employment is 580,000 lower. Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that truthfulness is vital to trust in our democracy? Does he accept the correction from Sir David Norgrove?”    

Dominic Raab MP, the Deputy Prime Minister, responded:  

  “Of course we listen carefully to Sir David Norgrove, but what I would say to the right hon. Gentleman is that he points to the data yesterday and it showed that unemployment has fallen below 4%, is back at pre-pandemic levels and is being termed a remarkable success by everyone, including the Resolution Foundation. He talks about the truth and there is one golden truth: whenever there has been a Labour Government in the past, unemployment has always been higher when they left office than when they started. That is the jobs guarantee you get with Labour.” 
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