MSPs have voted to stop Scottish ministers getting early sight of economic statistics to avoid them ‘spinning’ the numbers.

A plan by the Scottish Parliament’s economy committee to bring forward its own bill to end privileged “pre-release access” for ministers and special advisers was passed 58 to zero.

The move, which will align the Scottish system with the UK one, was backed by all the opposition parties, while 48 SNP MSPs abstained.

Labour MSP Jackie Ballie said: “This is the first victory in the war on the SNP’s spin machine. For too long SNP ministers have got away with trying to bend statistics to suit their narrow political agenda.

“Scottish Labour will now work alongside other parties to bring those days to an end.

“Scotland needs a government focused on substance, not spin.”

Tory MSP Dean Lockhart added: “The reality is that pre-release access gives the SNP 24 hours or longer to spin key economic figures, no matter how bad they are.

“The wider backdrop to this debate is the increasing concern over the level of transparency and governance under this SNP government.

“The Economy Committee is acting because the Scottish Government has refused to do so.

“The SNP government has also refused to listen to overwhelming evidence that pre-release access is contrary to the ‘EU statistics Code of Practice’ and the ‘United Nations fundamental principles of official statistics’.

“The experts are clear, the Scottish Government’s approach to pre-release access is out of step with best practice and the policies followed in other OECD countries.”

At present, Scottish ministers can see Scottish economic growth and retail sales index data up to five days before they are made public.

In June, the committee voted by a majority - with SNP MSPs opposed - that early access should end entirely for both data sets, and access to other economic data cut to one day.

The intention is to stop ministers working up “spin” operations to put the most positive gloss on potentially embarrassing numbers, and so frame their reporting in the media.

A Bill will now come before Holyrood to enact the measure, but could be amended to make the restrictions more wide-ranging.

The practice of early access to data for UK Government ministers has not been used by either the Bank of England or the Office for National Statistics since 2017.