MP concerned that electronic storage of expenses claims could leak again

May 14, 2009 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

A Conservative MP has asked the Speaker for an assurance that personal details will not leak again.

Julian Lewis raised the issue on a point of order earlier today.

“Mr Speaker, you have rightly drawn attention to the distinction between that information which has been released early and that information, such as Members’ home addresses, ex-directory telephone numbers and bank account details, which has been stolen as a result of a criminal breach of the Data Protection Act,” he said.

“What guarantee is there that the same thing will not happen again with the next year’s claim forms and receipts if the House insists on handling them in electronic form rather than in paper form?

“If the House had not handled that material in electronic form, it would have been impossible for people to steal the private data, which everyone, whatever they think about the claims—the substantive data themselves— must agree should never have been copied.”

The Speaker responded:

“I have to be careful about what is said on the Floor of the House regarding hon. Members’ private business and that of their staff.

“The Clerk of the House, as the corporate officer, felt that there was a criminal matter involved, and he took it up with the police.

“Perhaps some clarity can be given to the issue: the Clerk felt that there was a criminal matter and, he, as the corporate officer, took it up with the police. I endorse what he had to do.

“Now that we have called in the police, I have to be careful about my response to the hon. Gentleman and his point of order. I know that he will appreciate that.”

Earlier this week it was reported that Andrew Walker, the House of Commons Director General of Resources, wrote to all MPs to warn them that a person or persons who allegedly sold a disc of information on MPs’ expenses to The Daily Telegraph may still have a copy and try to sell it again.

The paper has run details of expenses claims all week.

Writing on her blog, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries expressed concern that her details could fall into the wrong hands.

“My personal details, including credit card numbers, bank account details, home address, signatures, family details and IDs have all been sold to the Daily Telegraph, and who else?

“Terrorists, pro-abortion extreme groups, Al Queda, BNP?

“My home has already been ‘flagged’ by Bedfordshire Police , as a result of threats to my personal safety and that of my staff.

“Both the House of Commons Police, Met and Bedfordshire have had to deal with a variety of problems, including people turning up at the House, because that’s where they know they can make contact with me.

“That’s why I think it is an offence. I feel vulnerable and as though my privacy has been totally invaded.”

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