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Office for National Statistics: Internet

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps the Office for National Statistics is taking to develop its website. (232690)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Dennis Roberts, dated November 2008:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what steps the Office for National Statistics is taking to improve its website. I am replying in her absence. (232690)

The Statistics and Registration Service Act gained Royal Assent in July 2007 and lead to the creation of the UK Statistics Authority on 1 April 2008 (the ONS is now the executive arm of the Authority). At the same time, the Authority (via ONS) launched a new Publication Hub which provides a single portal to new national statistics releases from the Government Statistical Service. ONS is currently undertaking a further redevelopment of this Hub, in order to provide additional services to users, including enhanced search and a new online Catalogue of official statistical products and supporting documentation, underpinned by a theme-based Taxonomy classification of all products. ONS is also redeveloping its own website in order to improve the way in which its statistics are presented, both in its publications and in the way in which the underlying data is made available to users. It is planned to implement the initial changes over the course of the next six months, and to continue to enhance the websites thereafter.

The impact of these changes will be to enhance public confidence in official statistics. Statistical press releases from government departments are already being published on the Hub; free from Ministerial influence. In addition, there will be an improved experience for users of statistics by providing greater coherence in the publication of statistics over the internet, consistent with the ‘transformation of government’ agenda. Users should experience easier access to statistics, whilst at the same time gaining wider knowledge of all available official statistics. The provision of ONS datasets and an ability to analyse the data on-line will enhance the satisfaction of statistics users.