Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Talking Politics 
Mayor News 
Diary 
People in Parliament 
A-Z of Parliament 
Political Links 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Video
The BBC's Emma Simpson reports: "The government promises there will be no serious disruption"
 real 28k

Monday, 1 November, 1999, 17:46 GMT
Publicity campaign 'trivialises' Y2K
The booklet will warn against stocking up on food

A 9.4m publicity campaign to reassure the public that there is nothing to fear from the millennium bug has been dismissed as a waste of money.

Bugtown UK
Bugworld
The government is to distribute booklets to all 26m homes in the UK in an attempt to dissuade people from stockpiling food out of fear of mass computer crashes on 1 January.

But Taskforce 2000, the independent bug-watch organisation, claimed the 24-page leaflet "trivialised" the issue and did not address the more long-term concerns arising from the Y2K problem.

However, Commons leader, Margaret Beckett said the 24-page booklet would separate the millennium bug facts from the fiction.

Margaret Beckett: Booklet will separate fact from fiction
Government departments are confident that they have taken action to limit the damage that could be done by the software bug - which is caused by an inability of many electronic systems to recognise the change in date when 1999 becomes 2000.

Industry and individuals have also been striving to neutralise the potential threat to their computers from Y2K.

Mrs Beckett, said: "A huge amount of work has been done in this country to prepare for the millennium bug and we are not expecting any significant problems over that period as a result of the bug.

"Everyone can be confident that the UK is as well prepared as any country in the world.

"People stockpiling food could cause shortages and we do not need that."

'Not a good use of money'

But Taskforce 2000 director Robin Guenier said: "I think to be spending nearly 10m of taxpayers money to reassure people and to cause them not to panic when nobody is panicking or needs reassurance is not a good use of that money."

Mr Guenier stressed that a "significant number" of big businesses were planning for the short-term problem at midnight on 31 December 1999.

"For example, supermarkets are going to be well stocked up with food for the period, but if there are failures among seed growers, manufacturers, shippers, packers and aircraft, there is the possibility of food supplies getting into some serious muddle as we go further into the new year," he said.

"It may be that the real task isn't what happens on 1 January, but 1 March."

Mr Guenier said Taskforce 2000, which was set up by the last Tory government, also feared international banks might suffer from problems associated with the millennium bug.

But Gwynneth Flower, managing director of the rival Action 2000 group, said it was right to reassure people and prevent them putting extra strain on certain key services.

She said: "This leaflet helps consumers to understand the myths about the millennium bug.

"The end of the year is a time for celebration, not for unnecessary worry.

"Banks are not going to lose your financial records and your central heating will come on."
Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

See also:
12 Nov 99 |  UK
'Vital' services given Y2K all-clear
22 Oct 99 |  UK
Streets ahead for millennium parties

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Politics stories