Letter: Who pays the Bug bill?

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WE are ever being told that capitalism works, with firms competing in a free market with a minimum of government intervention. They certainly should not expect public funds to bail them out when they make a mistake by selling defective products or by buying components which do not perform satisfactorily.

Am I alone then in being dismayed by what Tony Blair says (Comment, 30 March) about the Millennium Bug? Few things in life have been predictable for so long and with such a high degree of confidence as the following of year 1999 by year 2000. The Bug is the result of a serious mistake by parts of the computer industry, yet the Government is proposing to spend our money to help solve industry's problems.

If the Bug will cost central government pounds 400m, why is it not seeking to recover this cost from the suppliers of computer software and hardware responsible? Many fortunes for directors and shareholders have been made from the successes of the computer industry: it must surely be responsible for its liabilities.

DAVID PACKHAM

School of Materials Science

University of Bath

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