Each of the three public crises hitting the government – lost data ,dodgy donations and Northern Rock- is getting worse.
Today we learn of more data that was sent out on a disc with no encryption or password protection. That ended up with a newspaper who returned it. It proves the Revenue and Customs loss was no one off by a junior official, but part of a careless culture in this government. Ministers clearly did not think the protection of our data was a priority and have allowed their offices to be casual in their approach.
We hear from the Labour donor that as many as 10 senior Labour figures knew that his money was going to be declared in other names, although he has not told the press the names of the gang of 10. Some may be officials, some may be politicians, some may have left their jobs but some may still be in post. If Gordon Brown wishes to stop this story sapping the reputation of this government further he needs to order everyone who knew and may have inadvertently or intentionally broken the rules to come clean before the police find out for themselves. How can we believe this government wants higher standards if members or advisers to it keep quiet until they are outed? If the government’s line remains that their donor is wrong, they had better make sure everyone the donor thinks he told is telling the truth and there is no evidence to the contrary. Denials like the Scottish one do more harm than good when letters reveal a different story.
We also learn that the Bank of England does not seem to have imposed effective controls over cash management and costs at Northern Rock. Now we the taxpayers may have as much as ??30 billion at risk I would expect the authorities led by the Chancellor to be taking a very detailed interest in how the money is spent by the company and look forward to them getting a grip and telling us more about when they think they will get the money back and how they are monitoring progress. Of course a commercial bank keeps these details confidential for its customers, but this loan is massive, it is already public, and proper accounting for public money requires the authorities to put into public view how they are protecting the taxpayer interest. The Competition authorities also need reassuring that this loan is being run commercially.