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The Historical Legacy

The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 built on earlier reforms which were introduced, firstly in 1996 with the publication of the 'ONS Framework Document,' and later in 2000 with the publication of the 'Framework for National Statistics'.

As described in the 'ONS Framework Document', the Office for National Statistics (ONS) was established in 1996 as an Executive Agency accountable to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was formed through unification of the Central Statistical Office (CSO - created in 1941) and the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS - created in 1970). The Director of ONS acts also as the Registrar General for England and Wales, and the Head of the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

Consequently, ONS became responsible for the National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) and the General Register Office (GRO), which administers the system for registering births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships in England and Wales.

’The Framework for National Statistics’, published in June 2000, introduced a number of additional structural features to the UK statistical system:

  • it added the role of 'National Statistician' - the Government's chief statistical adviser with operational independence from ministers - to the three other roles played by the Director of ONS,

  • it introduced the concept of 'National Statistics' - a designated set of official statistics produced in accordance with the governance arrangement set out in the Framework, and compliant with the professional standards set out in the 'National Statistics Code of Practice',

  • it established a new body - the independent 'Statistics Commission' - to act as a guardian of statistical integrity.

Under the Statistics Act, the new Statistics Board took over the functions previously performed by the Statistics Commission and ONS, with the latter becoming the Authority’s 'executive office'. As with the earlier reforms, the UK statistical system remains decentralised and devolved.

The bulk of National Statistics continue to be produced outside ONS but under the jurisdiction of the Government Statistical Service, while the GRO and NHSCR transferred to other bodies.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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