Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP Condemns Shambolic Treasury

10.48.00am GMT Wed 21st Nov 2007


Leading Liberal Democrats from across Bristol have condemned the massive

failure of security that led to personal details being lost for every

family in the UK with a child under 16.

The personal details were on two CDs that were sent in unsecured

internal mail - in violation of strict security rules. The details

included people's names, address, birth date, National Insurance number,

partner's details, the names age and sex of children, and for some

people, bank and savings account details. Nobody knows where the CDs

are now.

Nearly half of all people in the UK are theoretically at risk, which

amounts to hundreds of thousands of people in the Bristol area alone.

Although the risk is low and Chancellor Alistair Darling has said there

is no evidence that the data had gone to criminals, he also advised

people who were worried to monitor their accounts "for any unusual


Liberal Democrats say the security breach highlights two key issues: the

extreme danger of collecting sensitive personal data in massive

centralised databases, and the dysfunctional management of The Treasury.

Stephen Williams, Lib Dem MP for Bristol West commented: "The Treasury

has joined the Home Office as a government department that is unfit for

purpose. The Chancellor has inherited from his predecessor Gordon

Brown, systems of management that are dysfunctional."

Cllr Mark Wright, Lib Dem spokesman for Bristol South, said: "This

security breach shows in the clearest possible way exactly why it is so

dangerous to hoard massive amounts of personal data in centralised

computers. There is a reason why putting all your eggs in one basket is

a bad idea, no matter how convenient it may seem at the time. The

Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed ID-cards precisely because

mistakes like this can and will happen. The risks to society of

ID-cards massively outweigh the benefits."

Cllr Steve Comer, leader of the Lib Dems on Bristol City Council and a

member of the National Executive Committee of the PCS Union (which

represents HMRC staff), added: "This strikes at the heart of confidence

in Government databases, both those that exist now; and those that are

being developed for the future, like the ID-card database and also the

little-known 'ContactPoint' child database."

Paul Harrod, Lib Dem spokesman for Bristol North West concluded: "The

Government, whose first duty is to protect its citizens, has in this

case done exactly the opposite and exposed its citizens to risk. Half

the country will be anxious about the implications of this, and they are

right to conclude that the Government has truly let them down."

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