More dodgy figures?

4th January 2008 at 00:00

Time for a review .

Red faces all round at the Learning and Skills Council, which has been left carrying the can after David Lammy, skills minister, uttered some dodgy statistics in the House of Commons.

Mr Lammy told fellow MPs that 3.1 million employees were covered by the "skills pledge" to train staff in English workplaces. But the correct figure is 2.3m - although I somehow doubt that either statistic is likely to fall easily from the lips of the man on the Clapham omnibus.

The error was admitted by John Denham, Secretary of State for Skills. But Mr Lammy escaped a Christmas bollocking, the blame having fallen on the poor old LSC, which was responsible for providing the data, but got its figures wrong due to a computer error.

"I apologise to the House unreservedly for this inadvertent error. I am also writing to members who were given the incorrect figure," said Mr Denham. In the meantime, he has called on the quango to make sure that similar mistakes are not made again. How? Why, by carrying out a review, of course.

HM Government does not seem to do so well with data stored on computers. Dropping a clanger over skills pledge statistics is pretty small fry compared with, say, losing the personal details of millions of children by bunging them on a disk that subsequently goes awol. Nevertheless, perhaps it's time to bring back old-fashioned slide rules, filing cabinets and messenger pigeons - although I suspect this latest cock-up relates to an area of Government activity that is rather too obscure to have the Daily Mail ranting.

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