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The Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order (Northern Ireland) 2009

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PART 1GENERALLY APPLICABLE RULES AND PRINCIPLES

1.  Pre-release access to official statistics may only be granted in accordance with the rules and principles set out in this Schedule.

2.  Only the person responsible may grant pre-release access.

3.—(1) The person responsible—

(a)may only grant pre-release access where to deny such access would, in the opinion of the person responsible, significantly impede—

(i)the provision of responses to questions or the making of statements about an official statistic at or shortly after the time of publication of that statistic; or

(ii)the taking of action before, at the time of or shortly after publication of that statistic;

(b)may only grant pre-release access to an eligible person;

(c)may only grant pre-release access if in the opinion of the person responsible the public benefit likely to result from such access outweighs the detriment to public trust in official statistics likely to result from such access;

(d)is required to restrict pre-release access to the minimum number of persons consistent with the need for pre-release identified within paragraph (a);

(e)may, when deciding whether to grant pre-release access to an eligible person, take into account any failure by that person, in relation to a previous grant of pre-release access, to comply with paragraph 6, paragraph 7 or any conditions imposed by the person responsible;

(f)may grant pre-release access subject to conditions.

(2) For the purposes of this paragraph “eligible person” means—

(a)a Northern Ireland Minister, including the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland;

(b)a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly appointed as a junior Minister under section 19 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998(1);

(c)a Minister of the Crown;

(d)the head of a government department;

(e)a member of the Scottish Executive;

(f)a junior Scottish Minister;

(g)a member of the Welsh Assembly Government;

(h)a person who, in the opinion of the person responsible, is otherwise accountable to the public for the formulation or development of government policy or for the delivery of public services to which the statistic has direct relevance; or

(i)a person who needs pre-release access in order to advise a person referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (h).

(3) For the purposes of this paragraph, “government policy” includes the policy of the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the policy of the Scottish Administration, the policy of the Welsh Assembly Government and the policy of the Government of the United Kingdom.

4.  Subject to paragraph 5, the person responsible may not grant pre-release access for a period in excess of 24 hours prior to the time set for the publication of an official statistic.

5.—(1) In exceptional circumstances only, the person responsible may grant pre-release access to—

(a)an eligible person for a period in excess of 24 hours prior to the time set for the publication of an official statistic if in the opinion of the person responsible the public benefit likely to result from such access significantly outweighs the detriment to public trust in official statistics likely to result from such access;

(b)a person who is not an eligible person (either within the period of 24 hours prior to the time set for the publication of an official statistic or before this period) if an eligible person who has been granted pre-release access to an official statistic makes representations to the person responsible that pre-release access is needed for the purposes of paragraph 3(1)(a)(ii) in relation to that statistic.

(2) Where pre-release access is granted under sub-paragraph (1)(b), the person responsible must be satisfied that—

(a)the public benefit likely to result from such access (including the timing of such access) significantly outweighs the detriment to public trust in official statistics likely to result from such access; and

(b)the person to whom pre-release access is granted is the appropriate person to take the action referred to in paragraph 3(1)(a)(ii).

(3) A person who receives pre-release access under sub-paragraph (1)(b) is an eligible person only for the purposes of paragraphs 6, 7 and 8.

(4) Where pre-release access is granted under this paragraph the person responsible must—

(a)publish the reasons for granting such access; and

(b)inform the Statistics Board.

(5) For the purposes of this paragraph—

(a)paragraph 3(1)(b) does not apply to sub-paragraph (1)(b),

(b)paragraph 3(1)(c) does not apply.

6.—(1) An eligible person who receives pre-release access must not disclose—

(a)the statistic,

(b)any part of a publication where that part includes that statistic, or

(c)any suggestion of the size or direction of any trend indicated by that statistic,

until after the official statistic has been published.

(2) An eligible person who receives pre-release access must not use that access—

(a)for personal gain;

(b)to take any action (other than the preparation of responses or statements as referred to in paragraph 3(1)(a)(i)) for political advantage.

7.—(1) An eligible person who receives pre-release access must not use such access to change or compromise—

(a)the content or presentation of the official statistic;

(b)the timing of publication of the official statistic.

(2) This paragraph does not prevent an eligible person from communicating to the person responsible any numerical or typographical error in the composition or presentation of the official statistic.

8.  The person responsible may only grant pre-release access to market sensitive official statistics to an eligible person (“P”) who has signed a declaration that P undertakes, in relation to any such statistics to which P is granted pre-release access, to comply with paragraphs 6 and 7 together with any specific conditions subject to which such access is granted.

9.  The person responsible must publish—

(a)a list of all official statistics at least annually to which that person has granted pre-release access;

(b)at the same time as or prior to the publication of an official statistic a list of the job title and organisation of persons to whom the person responsible has granted pre-release access to that statistic; and

(c)arrangements made by the person responsible to ensure compliance with this Schedule including, where appropriate, the role of the departmental senior statisticians.

10.—(1) Nothing in this Schedule prevents access to official statistics in their final form prior to publication by a person directly involved in the production of the publication, whether electronic or in hard copy, by which such statistics are to be published providing such access is used only for those purposes.

(2) A person mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) is an eligible person only for the purposes of paragraphs 6 and 7.

11.—(1) Nothing in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 prevents an eligible person who receives pre-release access sharing such access to the official statistic with a person providing administrative support (of a type not within paragraph 3(2)(i) or 13(3)(l)) to that eligible person.

(2) A person providing administrative support under sub-paragraph (1) is an eligible person only for the purposes of paragraphs 6 and 7.

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