UK Passport Office hits back at Midlothian MP's comments

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The UK Passport Office has slammed Midlothian MP Owen Thompson’s claim that it is a shambles, calling his comments ‘ridiculous”.

Mr Thompson (SNP) tabled a series of written questions about HM Passport Office telephone services and passport application processes, after receiving dozens of emails from constituents who had not received their passports on time for their holidays and could not get through to the Passport Office’s Customer Service team.

In response to a question on the percentage of passport applications which were processed within the HM Passport Office’s own service standard times in each of the last three years, Home Office Minister Kevin Foster did not provide a figure, instead stating “the data was not held in a reportable format”.

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Mr Thompson said: “Under this government’s shambolic leadership, public services are being run into the ground and the passport office is no exception – it is in utter chaos.

Stock photo by Jane Barlow.Stock photo by Jane Barlow.
Stock photo by Jane Barlow.

"It is beyond belief that the government does not know whether the Passport Office is meeting its own targets, because if this answer is to be believed, it doesn’t even bother to gather the facts.

Midlothian constituents tell me they have been left absolutely distraught as the deadlines for getting their new passport are missed and they can’t get through on the customer service line to find out what’s going on.

“This is an appalling standard of service which cannot be brushed off and blamed on the pressure of Covid – it is bad planning and bad management from a dysfunctional government.

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"The fact they are seeking to slash civil service numbers in the eye of the storm is even more ridiculous. It has been frustrating as an MP trying to help too, with the usual channels to represent constituents also at breaking point. This system needs a complete shake up from the very top. Fixing the problems has to start by Ministers giving straight answers to straight questions.”

A HMPO spokesperson said: “It’s ridiculous to suggest we do not know how many passports are issued.

"Our staff continue to process 250,000 passport applications each week and across March and April we completed the processing of nearly two million passport applications.”

The spokesperson also advised customers to call the Passport Advice Line on 0300 222 0000 if they have a query relating to their specific passport application.