FORMER Tory leader and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to let the public know what is being done to make sure their details are not misused by HM Revenue and Customs.

Appearing in the House of Commons yesterday, according to Parliamentary records site, Mr Duncan Smith asked the Chancellor "what steps he plans to take to reduce the number of incidents of staff misuse of customer data at HM Revenue and Customs".

He also called on Chancellor Alistair Darling to make these steps known and asked "by what means he plans to inform the public".

Mr Duncan Smith also asked Mr Darling what action had been taken against customs staff who had been found to have misused customers' details.

Stephen Timms, who is financial secretary in the Treasury, said a "strategic objective" was in place to reduce incidents by at least 75 per cent between 2009 and 2012.

Planned actions include developing skills of tax professionals and promises to "deal with the case rigorously, taking appropriate disciplinary or criminal action" if it is found to be deliberate.

Mr Timms added: "All instances of suspected misuse are thoroughly investigated and are subject to appropriate disciplinary action, with penalties up to and including dismissal and criminal action.

"All departmental staff must attend mandatory training to reinforce the consequences they face in the event of misusing customer data."

Problems with data security were first highlighted in 2007 when CDs containing child benefit data were lost.

HMRC has said it has "significantly increased staff awareness of data security" and "improved the way in which incidents are reported and handled".