Part of Jack's letter to Grant: [I've 'spaced' it for ease of trading -- the text is as in the letter]
I also understand a number of staff at the Department concerned, including a Special Advisor to the Communities Secretary, were on a pre-release access list for the statistics.
The Code of Practice for Official Statistics says Ministers "must ensure that no statement or comment -based on prior knowledge - is issued to the press or published ahead of the publication of the statistics" and reminds them of their duty "to promote trust and maximise public value".
In light of what has now emerged, I would ask that you answer the following questions:
1) Did any discussions take place between you and your officials and/or the Prime Minister and Downing Street officials on the timing of the release of the housing strategy in relation to the publication of these statistics?
2) If such a discussion did take place did you not consider it more appropriate to time the release of the Housing Strategy after the release of these statistics to allow a better informed public debate and debate in Parliament?
3) If such a discussion did not take place, do you not think it should have? In order to avoid the perception that the Government is news-managing the publication of official statistics, is it not the role of Ministers to consider the timing of political announcements?
4) At what point were those on the pre-release access list informed of the content of the statistical release?
5) At what point were you made aware of the content of the statistical release?
6) Do you agree, that in light of the publication of these statistics, that by timing the housing strategy the day before the release of this statistics we were not able to have the most informed public and parliamentary debate?
7) Will you agree to hold a debate, in Government time, on this Government’s commitment to affordable housing?
People across our country are desperate for good quality, affordable housing. As a direct result of decisions you have made they have not been able to get this. These statistics show that the responsibility for that lies solely with your Government. These figures demonstrate the damage done by your Government in ending Labour’s Affordable Housing Programme.