14th June 2022
North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has urged the Government to apologise for ruining thousands of people’s travel plans due to its continued failure to deal with the passport backlog.
The Lib Dem MP is reiterating her warning to holidaymakers to apply for passports as early as possible as delays continue to get worse at the struggling Home Office – leaving people facing a “lottery” of whether they will be able to travel abroad.
She voted for an amendment on Tuesday demanding that the Minister for Safe and Legal Migration speak in the House of Commons to “apologise for the tens of thousands of people who have waited more than six weeks for their passport”.
The Home Office’s official guidance is now to apply 10 weeks before the planned travel date but for many people it has taken more than 12 weeks to get their document – despite the advice when they applied being that it should take half that time.
Helen Morgan MP said: “Instead of the straightforward process it should be, renewing your passport has become a lottery where you have to get lucky to avoid an anxious three-month wait.
“Every day more and more people are contacting me upset that they are having to cancel their travel plans because of delays receiving a passport.
“Some get their new passport within days but for others it takes months and often there is no difference between the applications.
“A typical example is a local family who contacted me recently. They sent off four applications in April, got three back within a few weeks but are still waiting for the final passport. As the clock ticks down to their family holiday the Home Office has finally made contact. But not to apologise and send out the passport – to ask for evidence of the applicant’s name change when no name has been changed.
“The Home Office is clearly not fit for purpose and instead of blaming a flurry of applications which we all knew was going to happen as travel restrictions eased the Government should say sorry to the many people who are having to cancel holidays they have been looking forward to for years.”
The Home Office has hired some new staff but it remains impossible for members of the public to get through on the phone to find out the status of their application – and dedicated MP’s hotlines to chase up urgent cases are also overwhelmed.
Helen added: “I feel sorry for the workers in the passport office who are clearly under immense strain and are doing their best despite the inadequacies of this Government and its utter failure to plan for a long-forecasted increase in applications.”
The amendment voted for by Lib Dem MPs called for the House to censure Government minister Kevin Foster for his handling of the crisis at Her Majesty’s Passport Office.
It was defeated after Conservative MPs voted against it.