Stop devolved nations collecting their own data on public services says Conservative editor
A Conservative editor has urged the UK Government to stop the devolved nations from collecting their own data on public services that could diverge from the data collected by the UK Government.
The deputy editor of news website ConservativeHome, Henry Hill, wrote in the Telegraph that the Welsh and Scottish governments were collecting their own data as a means of hiding their “incompetence”.
It meant that it was harder to compare how they were performing with England and made it tougher for the UK Government to control devolved policy, he said.
“One of the big problems which has arisen from devolution is so-called ‘data divergence’, where the devocrats tweak how statistics are collected (or simply stop collecting them) in order to prevent a like-for-like comparison of their records with those in other parts of the UK,” Henry Hill said.
“If an MP writes to the House of Commons Library to ask for a comparative report on English and Welsh school performance, or NHS outcomes in different parts of Britain, they ought to be prepared to receive an apologetic note to the effect that such a comparison can’t be done.
He added that this “undermining Britain’s statistical base (and with it the possibility of British, as opposed to devolved, policy)”.
He pointed to the SNP’s independent Scottish census as an example of this, and while there was no Welsh equivalent predicted that “doubtless Mark Drakeford will soon be making the case that this is a historic injustice”.
The General Register Office for Scotland has been responsible for the census in Scotland since 1855. Henry Hill however said that it was time for the UK Government to take back control of all data collection.
“The Government is starting to recognise that data divergence is a serious problem,” he said. “Unionist MPs are already pushing ministers to mandate the nationwide collection of uniform data on public service performance.
“But the planned Data Reform Bill is an opportunity to go further. Westminster bears ultimate responsibility for good governance in every corner of this country. Boris Johnson should be bold: it’s time to take back control of the Census.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.