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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 4 January, 2000, 11:47 GMT
UK relief over bug
bug
Monitoring operations are being carried out
The millennium bug has failed to bite businesses in the UK which eased back into work after the extended holidays with no major problems.

Billions of pounds were spent on anti-millennium measures in the run-up to the potentially-problematic date change - but the money seems to have been well spent.

The Cabinet Office's central monitoring centre in London was quiet on Tuesday morning, with no major problems reported.

The positive indications echoed the experience of countries across the globe, none of which have suffered to any great extent.

As fears over the bug largely failed to materialise, the US - the world's most technology dependent country - declared it had been "squashed".

'No problems'

The world's major stock markets reopened on Monday with no problems associated with the millennium date change. Relieved traders sent share prices soaring in Europe and Asia.

The London Stock Exchange - the last major international market to reopen in the new century - came back on line at 0800GMT and reported no bug problems.

The full effectiveness of the UK's multi-million pound battle with the bug will be clearer in the weeks to come.

Margaret Beckett: "Optimistic"
Margaret Beckett, the minister responsible for tackling the bug, said: "I think we're all a lot more optimistic than we were on New Year's Eve because there has been much less difficulty.

"I don't think any of us anticipated by the time we got to New Year's Eve major disruption because so much work has been done and people have been so conscientious but nobody was absolutely confident.

"We have come through that far better than we dared of hope and so I think we can be cautiously optimistic," she said.

Precautions necessary

But she urged people to take precautions as they returned to work and pointed out there were still problems to face, such as the leap year transition at the end of February.

Mrs Beckett also defended the amount of money spent on tackling the bug.

The government has spent about 430m, while private industry is believed to have spent in the region of 20bn in eradicating potential problems and putting contingency plans in place.

She said: "Before the date change, most of the questions were 'have you spent enough' 'have you done enough', 'can't you be more certain', 'shouldn't you have done more', shouldn't you have started earlier'.

"I think anybody who had asked me beforehand, to say it had been as good as this, I would not have dared to give such an assurance. I'm quite content."

An estimated 60,000 people were called in over the festive period to ensure computers in London's financial centre were bug-free.

The Stock Exchange said weekend checks had gone so well no testing was needed on Monday.

Into 2000

Threat remains

The Bank of England said there had been a few minor glitches reported by some financial institutions, but most of the bug-busting measures had proved effective.

But the Bank's deputy governor, David Clementi, said it was too early to declare a complete success.

Robin Guenier, head of the independent bug watchdog Taskforce 2000, said he remained concerned about databases and billing systems which might not immediately be effected by the bug, but which could encounter problems later.

"We have a long way to go, the whole of 2000 into 2001, the potential possibilities, the possible knock on effects, the possible consequences that are presently not known.

"It's really far too early to breathe a sigh of relief and say it's all done."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Robin Guernier, Taskforce 2000
"We have a long way to go."
Margaret Beckett
"I think we can be cautiously optimistic."
BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reports
"Despite the prophets of doom the power stayed on"
See also:

03 Jan 00 | Talking Point
03 Jan 00 | Americas
03 Jan 00 | Americas
02 Jan 00 | Business
01 Jan 00 | Business
01 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
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