Members were welcomed to the meeting and apologies were received from Helen Miller-Bakewell. The Chair particularly welcomed Professor Denise Lievesley who observed the meeting as the lead reviewer for the public bodies review of the Authority.
The minutes of the meeting on 13 July were agreed, and actions were reviewed. The Chair noted progress on the actions since the last meeting and thanked the Committee for their work.
2. 2022 Population Census in Scotland [SA(RC)(23)30]
Catherine Davies introduced a paper providing an update on National Records of Scotland’s (NRS’s) actions following discussion about the assessment of the 2022 Census in Scotland at the July 2023 Committee meeting. Members were informed of NRS’s latest work on the Local Authority Quality Assessment (LA QA) exercise and the communication of uncertainty in their releases.
Members discussed the update. The following points were considered:
the value of LA QA as a stakeholder engagement exercise and as a way of explaining NRS decisions to Local Authorities, as well as a source of quality assurance informing some adjustments to estimates;
the input from the International Steering Group which provided reassurance regarding NRS’s approach; and
NRS’s use of administrative data to supplement the census coverage survey. It was noted that this would have useful insight for the current work on England and Wales’ population statistics development.
The Committee noted that actions identified in the previous Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) assessment had been completed, and agreed that outputs from the 2022 Census in Scotland should be designated as National Statistics.
3. 2022 Population Census in Scotland (Draft Communications) [SA(RC)(23)32]
Catherine Davies introduced a paper which provided draft communications to illustrate how a decision by the Committee to designate outputs from the 2022 Census in Scotland as National Statistics could be communicated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).
The Committee provided some comments to strengthen the communications in terms of including more detail acknowledging the challenges faced by NRS in the production of this data. OSR would share finalised draft communications with the Committee prior to publication scheduled for 14 September.
4. Gender Identity Review [SA(RC)(23)31]
Elise Rohan introduced a paper which updated the Committee on OSR’s review of statistics on gender identity based on data collected as part of the 2021 England and Wales Census. The paper invited Committee members to approve OSR’s intention to publish an interim report in late September or early October, with a follow up report after Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish their research.
The Committee agreed that the challenge to the ONS statistics earlier in 2022 needs resolving in a timely manner, and discussed the reasons why ONS was not yet ready to publish its additional research on gender identity. Members also outlined the value of publishing an OSR report in strongly encouraging ONS to publish their micro-analysis on this topic, and stressed the need for OSR to present its findings as clearly as possible. In particular, they discussed the importance of the headline recommendation in the interim report that ONS sets out a timeline for its research programme, covering what it plans to publish by when.
It was agreed that OSR would share a draft of its interim report with the Committee prior to publication in late September or early October.
5. Any other business
The Chair of the Authority introduced a brief discussion on Gross Domestic Product releases and how ONS discusses uncertainty around revisions and data. Ed Humpherson updated the Committee on OSR plans to conduct a short review. The Chair made a note to address this issue in future Committee meetings. Professor Denise Lievesley thanked the Committee for being able to attend the meeting.
The Committee would meet next on Thursday 12 October.