Friday, 23 November 2007

Quote of the day

“ Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. ”

Ronald Reagan

Is UK Chancellor lying, or just poorly briefed?

There can be very few people in the UK who are not aware by now that the state has managed to misplace the personal details of millions of people. There are probably quite a few who are concerned about where their details will end up.

Your data – safe in their hands - just as well it wasn't the contents of a national ID database.

What’s more when the state is not loosing it they are parcelling it out to private companies.

Alistair Darling claimed in Parliament that the data was lost because:

“it appears that a junior official in HMRC provided the National Audit Office with a full copy of HMRC's data in relation to the payment of child benefit.

In doing so, the strict rules governing HMRC standing procedures were clearly not followed. Those procedures relate to the security of and access to data as well as their transit to ensure that they are properly protected."

Unfortunately it now ‘appears’ that this was nothing like what actually happened.

It seems the National Audit Office (NAO) were checking up on HMRC and needed some details to contact some ‘customers’ at random.

HMRC executives decided to provide the entire child benefit database (including bank account details, addresses and telephone numbers) or nothing, as it would apparently have cost £5K to filter the info – I bet they wish they had spent the money now…

Many of us who regularly handle databases for a living will wonder at this.

NAO insisted they did not need such details and urged the data to be sent as safely as possible. instead the whole database was sent in their internal mail.

The top official dealing with child tax credits, Nigel Jordan, was party to all this and could not possibly be accurately described as a junior official. He was senior enough to have chaired government committees on tax credit policy.

Is Alistair Darling telling Porkies, or just poorly briefed?