MorningpapersAnd if you think they’re bad, Mr Brown, have a read of the leading articles…

The Guardian: "It is not Mr Darling who stretched Revenue and Customs to breaking point: it was Gordon Brown, who merged Inland Revenue with Customs and Excise in 2005. He began the swingeing cutbacks for this new super-department."

Times: "The Government needs to look again at the recent merger that has created this unwieldy department. A report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales paints a damning picture of a floundering agency whose disorganisation, lack of clarity and poor accountability would inflict “irreparable damage” on any normal commercial body. It says the dual targets of cutting costs and increasing efficiency are incompatible, with large job cuts leaving the HMRC reliant on untrained staff. It is little wonder that security breaches occurred."

The Independent: "In the decade that it has been in power, New Labour has shown an ineptitude with information technology that has not only cost the country dear, but sown doubts about how far it can be trusted. Now, our worst fears have been confirmed. A major government department has been exposed as taking a casual, not to say negligent, approach to other people’s personal information. Civil servants have flouted their own rules and laws on data protection.  We find it hard to believe that a government with such a colossal blot on its record of data management will be in a position to introduce a national identity card. That plan should be abandoned: a small benefit from a blunder of truly epic proportions."

The Sun: "This country desperately needs electronic ID cards to combat terrorism and protect national security.  But who will trust an incompetent regime which casually allows the confidential records of half the population to be lost in the post?"

Telegraph: "Two of the primary functions of government are the efficient collection of taxation and the maintenance of a sound banking system. On both counts, Labour has fallen short.  The Prime Minister himself is directly implicated. It was Mr Brown’s Bank of England reforms in 1997 that created the regulatory structure that has been found so wanting. And it was Mr Brown who ordered the amalgamation of HM Customs and Excise into the Treasury, in a cost-cutting operation that has created a culture in which an official can pop ultra-sensitive personal data on half the population into the post without even recording or registering the package."

FT: "Mr Brown’s administration has failed in one of the first duties of government: to protect its citizens. Never mind breaches of data protection laws. Fraudsters armed with details of bank accounts, national insurance numbers, and the names of almost every child in the country could wreak identity theft havoc on an un-dreamed-of scale."

Mail: "Meanwhile almost daily, wildly inaccurate figures are published on immigration or asylum seekers, only to be "corrected" hours later – and still they’re wrong.  Only yesterday, we learn that removals of failed asylum seekers have slumped to their lowest in five years, while threequarters of foreign prisoners who should have been deported remain here.  Then there’s the Health department and the shambles over appointments for junior doctors. Or the Child Support Agency – so incompetent that it had to be wound up.  Passports, farm payments, tax credits, computer contracts, Northern Rock – name any area of government policy, and there you will find ministers and public servants, looking forward to gold-plated pensions, displaying jaw-dropping incompetence and betraying the public’s trust."

Final word to Quentin Letts: "Who is running this Government? Stan Laurel? Inspector Clouseau?"

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