I would like to thank my MP, David Liddington, for the very quick response this afternoon when I emailed him asking why the data was being sent to the NAO. He sent back the following from Hansard, within the hour:
I attach the Hansard report of today's question to the Prime Minister from Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, to which the NAO reports.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): Is the Prime Minister aware that when the Department for Work and Pensions ran child benefit, it did a full audit on 20,000 names? When it was passed to the Inland Revenue, that was cut to 2,000 names, which is why the National Audit Office had to check its figures. Is he further aware that those protocols were agreed at a high level in March between the NAO and the Inland Revenue, and when the NAO asked for narrow details-not people's personal bank accounts-the Revenue said that to disaggregate that information would be too burdensome for the organisation? Those decisions were, therefore, taken at a high level. Is that not the image of a department that has had too much work loaded on it at the same time as it is cutting staff?
As you can see, the NAO has a duty to audit the payment of Child benefit, as any other benefit, but asked HMRC for a narrower range of information than they insisted on providing. During the exchanges following the Chancellor's statement yesterday, Mr Leigh said that the NAO had asked for a list of national insurance numbers so that they could create a sample on which to carry out the audit. The NAO's general practice is to examine a sample of benefit payment records for audit purposes. The NAO specifically asked for personal details, other than NI numbers, to be excluded.
I also heard on the radio that the underlying reason was that HMRC would have had to make a payment to their IT contractor.
Jesus, Mary and fucking Joseph, for the sake of a few fucking quid they send 25m personal records in the post. Presumably the NAO would have had to pay for the data to be extracted as well, so no saving to us, just some wankers' budget. For fucks sake, haven't they got a brain cell between them! And these were meant to be senior managers, it makes you wonder about the mental capabilities of the junior civil service.
If somebody cannot be tried for a wilful breach of the Data Protection Act then the wankers who drew up the act should be shot as well.
And to make it worse England have just conceded 2 goals while I type this!