§ 15. Sir John Mellor
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give an assurance that applications for passports are treated as private and only disclosed to public authorities concerned.
The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil)
Passport applications form part of the official records of the Passport Office, and the information contained in them is regarded as confidential and is not disclosed to persons other than public authorities concerned except at the request of a competent court. Inquiries by near relatives, however, are dealt with on their merits.
§ Sir J. Mellor
Will the Minister explain the propriety of the last part of his answer? Surely, it is quite improper for an application of this kind to be disclosed to any private person whatsoever?
A wife looking for a missing husband—not in every case necessarily wilful desertion—or a parent looking for missing children could, and in fact frequently does, apply to the police for the information which they then obtain from us, so that as a matter of convenience, where we are satisfied about relationship, we sometimes give the information, but of course it is confined to saying whether or not a passport has been issued.
§ 16. Sir J. Mellor
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the Passport Office began the practice of asking, in some cases, married men seeking passports, to supply letters from their wives about provision for their maintenance.
I am not in a position to give the precise date upon which the practice began, but the records of the Passport Office show that when the subject was raised in this House on 7th May, 1930, the practice was already established and had been followed for several years.