Learning English - Words in the News
21 November, 2007 - Published 12:28 GMT
Britain information blunder
In Britain, benefit claimants have been warned to check their bank accounts, after personal details of 25m people were lost. The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, said that the records disappeared on their way from the tax and customs department to the National Audit Office. This report from Jo Coburn:
The fallout was never going to be pretty but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, has been savaged in the British press. The sheer scale of the security breach - affecting millions of families - has made it a huge public issue. Despite reassurances from Mr Darling that people's personal details are not in the hands of fraudsters and that a police investigation is underway, there are still serious questions about how this could have happened.
The personal position of the Chancellor may not be under immediate threat; the opposition parties have not called directly for his resignation. But if it emerges that the information has been used for illegal purposes, that situation could rapidly change. More worrying perhaps is the wider issue of the economic competence of the government, particularly after events at the mortgage-provider, Northern Rock, which has been kept afloat only with huge emergency loans from the Bank of England.
The fate of the missing data could also influence the debate over the introduction of identity cards in Britain. One minister said privately, 'it would almost be impossible for the scheme to survive'.
Jo Coburn, BBC, Westminster
savaged in the British press
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