Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 13:34 UK

Anger over 'cyber security leaks'

Computer keyboard
Details of the plans appeared in several newspapers

The Conservatives have urged ministers to make a statement on cyber security threats after reports about government plans appeared in several newspapers.

Tory home affairs spokesman Crispin Blunt said it was "remarkable" that apparent plans for a new cyber security chief had been leaked to the papers.

He quoted reports in The Independent saying the move was part of what would be an updated national security plan.

New Speaker John Bercow said ministers must make announcements to Parliament.

He said he was not aware of any planned announcement on cyber security but would look into the matter.

But he said Mr Blunt's intervention "underlined" the need for ministers to come to the Commons first with any policy announcements.

'Important issue'

No 10 is expected to announce measures to boost cyber security on Thursday as part of an updated national security strategy.

Mr Blunt told the Speaker that the Independent had reported on Wednesday that ministers would appoint a senior civil servant in the next few days to the newly created post of cyber security chief.

The occupant of the new role would be asked to co-ordinate efforts to prevent computer hacking by terrorist groups and tackle the spread of electronic espionage, the newspaper said.

The Financial Times also reported that a new unit could be set up within the Cabinet Office to spearhead efforts to protect computer networks and the UK's critical infrastructure from online sabotage.

In a point of order in the Commons, Mr Blunt said it was "remarkable" that the details had appeared in the media before Parliament had been informed.

He said there was "no record" that ministers were planning any oral or written statement on the matter.

"Cyber security is a very important issue and the cyber threat is extremely severe," he told MPs.

"Would it be as well for the government to prepare for an oral statement of some kind?"

When it published its first national security strategy last year, No 10 highlighted cyber warfare as a growing threat.

It said attacks were "well resourced and sophisticated" and were coming from a range of different groups.

Mr Blunt's demands for a statement came immediately after the new Speaker told MPs that he wanted ministers to make announcements to Parliament rather than in newspapers or on television and radio.



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