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Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Act 2021

Section 2

17.Section 2 amends the 2008 order. That order, made under section 11 of the 2007 Act, currently governs pre-release access to wholly Scottish devolved statistics (see paragraph 9 above). The rules and principles for that access are set out in the Schedule to the order. Under paragraph 4 of the Schedule, the maximum period of pre-release access that may normally be granted is one working day for “market-sensitive statistics” and five working days for other official statistics. “Market-sensitive statistics” are defined in article 2 of the order to mean “official statistics which when disclosed would, in the opinion of the person responsible, be reasonably likely to have a significant effect on the value or traded volume of any investment”. This is currently understood to include statistics on Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP), the retail sales index for Scotland, Scotland’s quarterly national accounts and Government Expenditure and Revenues Scotland (GERS).

18.Subsection (3)(a) amends paragraph 4 (of the Schedule to the 2008 order) so that the statistics that are subject to a one-working-day maximum period for pre-release access includes “economic statistics” as well as “market-sensitive statistics”. Subsection (2) adds into article 2 of the 2008 order the same definition of “economic statistics” that section 1(3) includes in new section 11A of the 2007 Act (see paragraph 14 above).

19.Subsection (3)(b) also amends the Schedule to the 2008 order, by adding a new paragraph 4A. That paragraph restricts the maximum period of pre-release access that may be allowed to official statistics on Scotland’s gross domestic product and Scottish retail sales (whether by volume or value). The new limit is one working day during the first year after Royal Assent (in practice, the same as the current limit), reduced to four hours during the next-following year, after which pre-release access to such statistics is prohibited altogether (subject to the outcome of the independent review required under section 3 – see paragraph 21 below).

20.Accordingly, the maximum periods of pre-release access that could generally be authorised would be as follows:

Category of official statistics PeriodStatistics on GDP or retail salesEconomic statisticsMarket-sensitive statisticsOther official statistics
Up to and including the day of Royal Assent5 working days (except where market-sensitive)1 working day5 working days
Year 1 (beginning on day after Royal Assent)1 working day5 working days
Year 24 hours1 working day5 working days
Year 3None1 working day5 working days
After Year 3None (unless recommended by the independent reviewer)1 working day5 working days

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