Stop devolved nations from collecting their own utility data, says conservative editor

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The 2021 census

A Conservative editor has urged the UK government to prevent devolved nations from collecting their own utility data which may diverge from data collected by the UK government.

The deputy editor of the news site CuratorHomeHenry Hill, wrote in the Telegraph that the Welsh and Scottish governments were collecting their own data to hide their “incompetence”.

This meant it was harder to compare their performance with England and made it harder for the UK government to control devolved politics, he said.

“One of the big problems that has arisen from decentralization is the so-called ‘data discrepancy’, where devotees change the way statistics are collected (or simply stop collecting them) in order to prevent comparison to identical to their records with those from other parts of the UK,” said Henry Hill.

“If an MP writes to the House of Commons Library asking for a comparative report on school performance in English and Welsh, or on NHS results in different parts of Britain, they should be prepared to receive a apology note stating that such a comparison cannot be made.

He added that it “undermines Britain’s statistical base (and with it the possibility of British politics, as opposed to devolved politics)”.

“Ultimate Liability”

He cited the SNP’s Independent Scottish Census as an example of this, and although there is no Welsh equivalent, he predicted that “without a doubt Mark Drakeford will soon argue that this is ‘a historical injustice’.

The General Register Office for Scotland has been responsible for the census in Scotland since 1855. However, Henry Hill said it was time the UK government regained control of all data collection.

“The government is starting to recognize that data discrepancy is a serious problem,” he said. “Unionist MPs are already pushing ministers to mandate the national collection of uniform civil service performance data.

“But the data reform bill is an opportunity to go further. Westminster bears the 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.

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