Dear Mr Carmichael,
Thank you for your letter of 10 March about the Home Secretary’s use of statistics on displaced people. In a statement to the House of Commons she said “there are 100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws. Let us be clear: they are coming here.” She also wrote in the Daily Mail that “there are 100 million displaced people around the world, and likely billions more eager to come here if possible.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does indeed estimate that there are more than 100 million forcibly displaced people around the world, which includes refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced people, and other people ‘in need of international protection’. But this is not an estimate of either the number of people who would qualify for asylum if they were to reach the UK or of the number of displaced people likely to seek asylum in the UK.
UNHCR statistics are not UK official statistics in which the UK Statistics Authority takes a direct interest. However, the Authority encourages ministers and other senior public figures to present numerical evidence from all kinds of sources clearly, so that the public can understand and verify any claims made.
Sir Robert Chote