Letter: Dates and the DTI

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article, "Redwood calls for `timebomb' action" (23 September) contains several inaccuracies.

The Department of Trade ministers are committed to helping British industry solve the century date problem. The DTI has been at the forefront of awareness- raising activities and is now working on helping businesses turn awareness into action. Industry and not the taxpayer must bear the cost of putting their own systems right.

However, the Government does have a role. That is why this Government has funded Taskforce 2000 and why I hosted a millennium skills summit with industry leaders.

The Government has been rightly praised by our European partners for our approach to this problem. We are much further ahead at a European level in taking action both in the private and public sectors. I am currently looking at new ways in which the Government can step up the campaign to galvanise industry into action.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, and always has been, responsible for coordinating work within government departments themselves on this issue. The DTI will continue to work with the private sector and any suggestions that we are looking to pass this on to the Cabinet Office are totally absurd.

Mr Redwood is correct on one point - action must be taken now to ensure all computer systems work smoothly at the beginning of the year 2000. I hope he will join with me in urging businesses to face up to their responsibilities. We in Government are facing up to ours.

Barbara Roche MP

Minister for Industry

The Department of Trade

and Industry

London SW1