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TORIES ATTACK GOVT OVER COUNCIL INACTION ON MILLENIUM BOMB

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Shadow board of trade president John Redwood, addressing the SC Awards ceremony (Securing Computing), said: ...
Shadow board of trade president John Redwood, addressing the SC Awards ceremony (Securing Computing), said:

'The private sector is getting ready for the year 2000. All the big companies I have spoken to recently have appointed staff, chosen consultants, allocated budgets and are well advanced with making sure their systems and computers will work on 1 January 2000. The message is filtering down to smaller companies too.

'My worry is the public sector. The government has wasted the best part of a year, at a crucial time for millennium preparations. Ministers are ever ready to lecture the private sector on how they should solve the problem, but there is little evidence that they are displaying the same drive in the public sector.

'Hospitals have been told by circular they are to get ready, but the central NHS cannot tell them which equipment needs altering, even though officials and ministers at the centre have presided over common standards and procurement.

'Councils have also been told to get ready. In shire areas, suffering from a withdrawal of grant and spending permissions generally, it is difficult finding the cash to do the job. Will all the schools, colleges and social service systems by ready on time?

'The government needs to reassure the public that every important public service will work on 1.1.2000. It needs to beef up its actions, and find the money from within existing totals to solve the problem. It did not have to switch so much money from shire vouncils elsewhere. It does not have to spend so much money setting up new quangos and parliaments. People living on benefit or needing hospital treatment on 1.1.2000 want to know that it will be available without any computer hitches. The government is far too complacent. The prime minister should turn from lecturing the private sector, to lecturing his own ministers of the urgency of this task.'

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