Minister’s singular response on stats lies

Another Conservative MP has responded to his constituent’s letter regarding the government’s abuse of statistics, which the UK Statistics Authority has unequivocally highlighted. This one – from a minister, no less – is remarkable, and strikingly different to the first two replies, from Rory Stewart and Justin Tomlinson.

This reply is from Mark Lancaster, Tory MP for Milton Keynes North – ‘Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury’ (a ministerial position) and still a serving member of the armed forces. Maybe it’s his army training, but this response has a completely different feel – and I respect its brevity and directness at least:


Thank you for your email and apologise for not getting round to responding immediately to it.

Unfortunately because I am a Minister I am unable to raise questions in the house, so will be unable to adhere to your third request but let me try and tackle one and two.

Firstly, I agree with you that the misuse of statistics to mislead the House and electorate is not acceptable and should never be acceptable. Secondly I will certainly raise the issue on your behalf with the Rt Honourable Theresa May MP.

I hope this has reassured you that your concerns are being listened to and as your MP I am always happy to work on your behalf.

Kind regards,


Polite, apologetic for not responding even sooner, and seemingly straight to the point. Abusing stats to mislead the House is wrong, he will take it up with a senior colleagues, and explains why he can’t raise it as a question.

Of course, he doesn’t acknowledge that Cameron, Smith et al actually did mislead the House or even abuse statistics, but he doesn’t contest it either, and no mealy-mouthed excuses or weasel-worded diversionary tactics.

I’m a little troubled about why he would refer it to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, but perhaps that’s my lack of knowledge of procedure.

I don’t have detailed information about his voting record in Parliament, but according to the timeline on his website, he played a key role in campaigning against the use of cluster bombs, is a keen supporter of credit unions and campaigned on the issue of ‘houses of multiple occupancy’ after an immigrant woman and her daughter died in a house fire.

I’m seriously tempted to add this to my ‘credit where it’s due’ series – unless anyone can provide an insight to show why not. It might just be that there’s one more decent Conservative MP than I previously knew about.

I hope so. It would still beg the question as to what he’s doing in the bandit party, of course. But it would be nice to be surprised.

10 responses to “Minister’s singular response on stats lies

  1. I received this email today:
    Dear Sir / Madam

    Thank you for your email regarding recent statements by the Prime Minister about NHS expenditure. The Statistics Authority understands that the figure of “£12.7 billion extra” expenditure quoted by the Prime Minister relates to the difference between planned expenditure on the NHS in England in 2014-15 (£114.4 billion) and the outturn figure for 2010-11 (£101.8 billion). These figures can be found in Table 1.13 in Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) published in 2012 (available at the link below), showing a difference of £12.6 billion. Subsequent revisions have changed this difference to £12.7 billion.

    Kind regards

    UK Statistics Authority Secretariat

  2. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    If anyone has any information to suggest that Mark Lancaster MP is a wrong ‘un, I’ll be very disappointed after his showing here. Is he the one decent Conservative MP – the exception that proves the rule? See for yourself.

  3. He certainly does seem to be of a different calibre to the other two and its good to see he doesn’t do any whingeing about the questions being ‘confrontational’. It will be interesting to hear what Theresa May has to say about this. Maybe he’s one of those backing her bid for party leadership.

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  6. I know it’s banging the same old drum, I know it’s slightly off topic but… it’s got to be done, there’s got to be a way to discuss this that will actually persuade people to make their stand.

    Newsnight, 27th June 2013, a graph was shown revealing that young people are increasingly concerned that welfare should be reduced.

    And they are. It’s just that this doesn’t mean they want welfare cut, as was suggested by one side of the debate, it means they want to see less need for welfare to exist.

    That deserves repeating. It means they want the opportunity to work without needing welfare or benefits to keep them alive while they do.

    It means they want to see the economy run in such a way that work does actually pay, and pays those who do the work as well as those who pocket the profit.

    It means they want a job they can rely on with a salary that pays their bills without any need to go begging and be shamed by the state.

    It really is that simple.

    There is a generation coming through who care deeply about very many important issues, including caring deeply about living in a fair and just society. For god’s sake give them a chance.

    It is downright obscene for the incumbent savages of media, parliament or The City to twist this statistic, to corrupt this sense of responsibility and to turn their care to hate.

    This emerging generation is our future and I, for one, will not sit quiet and allow these good souls, nor these noble ambitions to be hijacked, corrupted or perverted by a pack of greedy over privileged despots.

    Suggesting this generation’s concern to stand on their own two feet equates to any desire to impose poverty, homelessness and starvation on those even less fortunate, ranks as one of the most vile acts of betrayal I have witnessed.

    One that reveals, yet again, the depths to which power, (so called) authority and the mainstream media has sunk.

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