Science Update: Lawson's lament

NIGEL LAWSON, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has blamed poor advice he received on computing for a decision that helped spark the Eighties housing and credit boom.

He said the plan to leave a four-month gap between announcing the end of multiple mortgage interest relief in 1989 and its actual cut-off was taken on Inland Revenue advice that this would help avoid overloading bank and building society computers, this week's issue of Computer Weekly reports.

The gap is blamed as one of the strongest factors leading to the housing boom, as thousands of people rushed to buy to take advantage of double benefit. Mr Lawson said he accepted Inland Revenue advice in 1988 because 'it was technological, not economic advice, and knowing nothing about computers, I did not have the basis of knowledge on which to reject that advice'.

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