Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley spoke in the House of Commons yesterday. He took Alan Johnson, his opposite number, to task over knife statistics:
"The Secretary of State will know that the NHS Information Centre provided to 10 Downing street information from hospitals about people presenting with knife wounds—data that were unpublished, not yet validated and incomplete. That was done on the basis that the information would not be used publicly in that form. Can the Secretary of State tell the House whether he knew about 10 Downing street’s intention to use those data and, whether he did or not, what steps he personally is taking to make sure that NHS data are not used for partisan purposes in that way?
Alan Johnson: I have nothing to add to the Home Secretary’s comments yesterday, particularly her apology for what happened. The hon. Gentleman has written to the Information Centre and made a number of points, all of which will be answered in due course."
To her credit, the Home Secretary did indeed apologise yesterday for what Sir Michael Scholar, head of the UK Statistics Authority called the "premature, irregular and selective release" of knife figures. Officials had pleaded with the Government not to release the statistics.
I try to avoid hyperbole on this page. So when I write that New Labour’s use of statistics has been wildly irresponsible and fraudulent throughout their time in office, I hope you all know I mean it!