Budget 2016: Royal Statistical Society rejects Treasury Select Committee's calls for Treasury to take control of UK statistics at next month's Budget

 
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The Royal Statistical Society said it would be counterproductive to hand responsibility for statistics to the Treasury (Source: Getty)

Statistics experts have today slammed calls from MPs to hand full responsibility of national statistics to the Treasury, saying such a change would be "the wrong move".

In a letter today to City A.M., Mike Hughes, chair of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) advisory group, said "strengthening the independence of statistics is laudable but bringing them under the purview of the Treasury would achieve the opposite perception and would be counterproductive for government".

"There would be the constant question of whether the Treasury had influenced the figures," Hughes added.

Hughes's comments come after Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the Treasury Select Committee, revealed he had written to Sir Charlie Bean calling for a "shake up" of UK national statistics.

Read More: MPs call for statistics "shake up" in Osborne's budget

Bean, a former deputy governor for monetary policy at the Bank of England, was appointed by chancellor George Osborne to conduct a review of UK economic statistics at last summer's Budget. Bean's review is due to be published next month.

Read More: Sir Charlie Bean blasts UK's outdated national statistic

The Treasury Select Committee today called for Bean to recommend handing full responsibility of statistics to the Treasury, while allowing for more scrutiny by parliament. Specifically, the committee wants appointments for the national statistician and the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority to be "subject to full pre-appointment scrutiny by parliament".

The committee has also recommended creating a "small advisory body" to regulate official statistics.

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