The Poynter review into what went wrong at HM Revenue & Customs when it
lost two data discs containing the details of up to 25 million people is now set
to be released on Monday.
The Treasury confirmed that the report, which was due to be delivered today,
would now come out after the weekend. There had even been
it might come out as early as yesterday.
The outcome of the review is likely to be hotly awaited, with the
government’s competence on the line as much as the future of the tax authority.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown was yesterday forced to defend his decision to
merge the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise at a meeting of the Liaison
committee of all the chairmen of all-party groups.
The reforms were recommended after a long investigation by Gus O’Donnell, who
is now the Cabinet Secretary.
‘One of the reasons for the reforms was that businesses complained they had
to deal with the customs and excise authority on the one hand, and then with the
same type of information it had provided it had to deal with the Inland
Revenue,’ Brown said.
‘The idea was there should be one service for business through the HMRC. This
reform was supported by businesses small and large.’
He said the loss of the two discs, containing information such as bank
account details and National Insurance numbers, had not affected the work of the
child benefit service they related to.
Brown said: ‘One needs to separate the individual instance of rules not being
followed and the general amalgamation of HMRC, which I think has very
considerable benefits, particularly for benefits because it becomes a one-stop
The Treasury said Poynter’s review should be completed by today, and Brown
indicated yesterday that Chancellor Alistair Darling will make a statement on
its findings next week.
The Prime Minister said: ‘The first thing that we recognise, and events in
recent months have shown, is that care and security of information is important.
‘Every organisation, every country in the world is recognising that so much
more has to be done to make for the efficient use of computerization in the
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