In celebration of UK Parliament Week 2023, Chloe Wright, Head of Parliamentary and Public Affairs, discusses the relationship between the UK Statistics Authority and Parliaments across the UK.
This week is UK Parliament Week, an annual event and opportunity to learn about the work of Parliament and why it is important to everybody who lives in the United Kingdom, and beyond. We, the Parliamentary Unit, wanted to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of the UK Statistics Authority’s work and how it relates to Parliament.
The Authority’s work and the importance of Parliament
As a non-ministerial department, the Authority, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) all report directly to the UK Parliament in Westminster as well as the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We take our duties to Parliamentarians very seriously as part of our mission to provide statistics for the public good and we engage with Parliamentarians in many ways.
- Responding to Parliamentary Questions (PQs) which are tabled by MPs and Lords via the Cabinet Office asking for data, policy clarification or government action. For the Authority most of these are data driven given our non-ministerial status.
- Responding to Official Correspondence from Parliamentarians. These can either be in the form of a Parliamentarian writing to us directly for a response on a subject of interest, or on behalf of a constituent who has called upon their elected representative for assistance. Generally speaking, official correspondence is often more complex and lengthier than PQs.
- Engaging with Select Committees via both written and oral evidence. We are frequently called upon by Select Committees (of all kinds, across the UK) to provide evidence to assist in their inquiries, as well as actively looking out for opportunities where our data could assist in the work of a committee. We often set the scene for an inquiry by providing a comprehensive background of what our statistics and analysis say about the overall picture surrounding an issue. All of our Parliamentary Committee Submissions are available.
- Meeting with individual Parliamentarians to discuss areas of specific interest within their portfolio or to their constituency.
We know that Parliamentarians find the data and analysis that we produce incredibly useful to their work. Whether this be providing the evidence needed to make key decisions on the future of the country as well as ensuring that they are equipped with the statistics they need to carry out their constituency duties.
The Parliamentary Unit
The Parliamentary Unit is a small team of experts who coordinate the Authority’s relationships with Parliamentarians and provide advice on matters in this area. We are ready and eager to facilitate our colleague’s engagement with Parliamentarians and their staff, and vice versa.
We are situated centrally within the Authority and work closely with its other policy teams, the OSR and the producers of statistics across the ONS. This way of working gives us very broad oversight of the statistical system. We are always happy to chat about statistics and facilitate conversations with our expert colleagues where required.
If you are a Parliamentarian, a member of their team or an organisation that works closely with Parliament and you want to learn more about what we can offer more generally in terms of statistical evidence, are particularly interested in an area of the Authority’s work, or want to have a chat with us to further understand official data, contact the Parliamentary team at Parliamentary.Unit@ons.gov.uk.