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Numbers games

A new bill proposes independence for the Office for National Statistics—but it doesn't mean what it says

By John Kay   March 2007

Independence for the Bank of England has been one of Gordon Brown’s most successful policy initiatives. Independence for the Office for National Statistics seems an equally admirable proposal. But independence for the Bank of England meant, broadly, what was said. Independence for the Office for National Statistics means, broadly, the opposite of what is said. What a difference ten years in office makes.

The current statistics and registration service bill was published at the end of last year, and had its second reading in parliament in January. It promises “a new independent statistics board, outside of ministerial control” for the…

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