Margaret Beckett, the UK government minister with overall responsibility for Y2K readiness, has admitted there is not enough time left to solve the problem.
"I have come late and somewhat reluctantly to the view that we cannot be confident we can deal with all the problems," she is reported to have said at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool yesterday.
Beckett told the Labour Industry Forum that public and private sector organisations should focus on drawing up contingency plans, and prioritising which systems were most needed.
"It is important to priortise the areas of greatest concern and draw up contingency plans to minimise the difficulties that will arise," she said.
Although the admission was welcomed by millennium bomb campaigners who have been calling for a more realistic approach to the century date change, it is a politically sensitive one for a government that has come under heavy fire in recent months for not doing enough in time.
John Redwood, the shadow industry spokesman, was quick to accuse the government of wasting time on the issue.
Millennium bug experts warned that the government will face more politically sensitive decisions, as it tries to decide what should be prioritised.
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