Sunday, April 16, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 12

In the news this week:

Another £5bn pensions bill- "BT admitted yesterday that a "significant proportion" of its near-£5bn pension liabilities are underwritten by the taxpayer, although it refused to give details. BT said it was "no secret" that it has a crown guarantee for part of the pension liabilities of its defined benefit scheme, which closed to new members on April 1 2001. It said the guarantee covered liabilities in relation to pensioners and members of the scheme at privatisation in 1984." (Guardian 15.4.06)

£127,000 for Cherie's curtains- "Last year almost £30,000 was spent on furnishings for 10 Downing Street...with a total bill since 1999 of £127,314. A Downing Street spokesman was reluctant to say exactly how many tablecloths or lampshades the money had bought. "The bill includes carpeting, curtains, lamps and tablecloths. There is no more information that that," he said." (Independent 16.4.06)

£30m for Blair Force One- "Tony Blair is to announce within weeks that he will push ahead with the purchase of a £30m long-haul business jet. [It] will be fitted to carry around 40 passengers in luxurious comfort. Standard VIP layouts include at least one bedroom, an entertainment suite and a full-sized conference table." (Independent 16.4.06)

£15-30bn NHS computer crashes- "At the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre...the screens had suddenly frozen. Medical staff looked on in disbelief as they tried to retrieve lost records. “We had only been running the system for a couple of days when it went down,” said one manager. “You would try to get a patient’s records which you knew were there and it just locked you out.” Although the system was functioning again the next day, some patient files seemed to have disappeared completely. The trust was so alarmed that it sent a report to the National Patient Safety Agency, warning that it had posed a potential risk to patients. Even [the Department of Health] admitted this weekend that the cost of the scheme, now not due to be completed until 2010, could reach £15 billion. Outside experts suggest that £30 billion is more realistic. “In the system they are building, errors can get spread and copied across the network and nobody can do anything about it,” said Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University. “What they are proposing is a recipe for chaos and disaster.” " (Sunday Times 16.4.06)

Total for the week- £35,030,127,000

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