Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Brown; Alistair Darling; HMRC; Child Benefit; La’

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Darling and Brown – New Labour’s answer to Laurel and Hardy

21 November, 2007

Is it just me, or do others see Oliver Hardy every time Gordon Brown takes the floor? I can hear it now, “That’s another fine mess you’ve got me into, Darling.” And oh, how like Stan Laurel is our present Chancellor: an innocent victim of circumstance, he would have it, let down by the incompetence of others, none of it his fault.

Well, not quite, but, as he is merely the boot boy, a great deal of the blame must lie with his lord and master: once a Titan at the Treasury, he now raises a feeble hand, like Canute, unable to command the tide of blunders and crises that threaten to engulf him.

What I, and millions of other recipients of Child Benefit, would like to know (telephone conversation with sister today centred entirely around the possibility of someone’s using our details for identity theft) is why on earth anyone was able to download the database at all, let alone send it via snail mail.

All this talk of ‘procedures’ that weren’t followed is missing the point: it should have been physically impossible for this junior civil servant to copy such data – in my last job, systems security was so tight that I wasn’t able to alter the settings on my printer, it had to be done remotely by the IT manager. 

What is more, why is someone so junior even allowed access to, allowed to view, my bank account details? How much is he or she paid? How much would it take to bribe him or her to copy down relevant details and sell them? How easy would it be for an organised criminal gang to have one of their own apply for a relatively junior IT job in one of our big departments of state?

It’s terrifying.

Forget following procedures: such data should not be visible to any Tom, Dick or Harry who works in HMRC: are we to assume that the cleaners can look over anyone’s shoulder and make notes of details on the screen in front of them?

Gordon Brown can’t glower and say that it wisnae his fault, it wis an ijit in ra Treasury whit done it: ensuring proper systems security was very much his bag baby, when he was Chancellor.