Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Labour Motion on Passport Fee Refunds

Today I will vote for a motion calling on the Government to provide a refund for people who have had to pay additional fees to have their passport applications to be upgraded as a result of the crisis in the passport office.

After the delays and problems at the passport office in the last few weeks, I will call on Theresa May to make a one off goodwill refund of fees for people who applied for their passports in good time but were forced to upgrade them because of the crisis and mismanagement in the passport office.

As part of efforts to tackle the crisis that has engulfed the Home Office in recent weeks, the Home Secretary has announced temporary measures including a free ‘upgrade’ of people’s applications to being fast tracked to people who have been waiting over 3 weeks already and travel within the next 7 days. 

But over the last few weeks, my office has seen more correspondence than before from constituents who have had their passport applications fast tracked because the HMPO could not ensure their passport would be processed within the government’s 3 week target timeframe and the government’s measures will not result in any help for these people.

The delays in passport processing have unintentionally lead to more money for the passport office which they have not budgeted for, as people have been forced to pay for their applications to be fast tracked.  This is against the backdrop of a budget surplus at the passport office in 2012/13 of £73million.  For this reason I will be joining Labour colleagues and calling on the Government to pay back these additional fees to those who have had to upgrade through no fault of their own in the past few weeks.

Over the last few weeks more and more people from Haslingden and Hyndburn have got in touch with me to tell me of the stress they’ve been having with their passports. I think it’s about time Ministers apologised for this mess and refund the upgrade fees they had to pay just to get their passports on time.

It’s unacceptable that the Passport Office should make money out of Theresa May’s incompetence and mismanagement, and her urgent measures just don’t do anything for families and people who need their applications processing quickly.  It’s time Theresa May got a grip and give people their money back.