HC Deb 26 May 1952 vol 501 cc941-2
30. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will clarify the position of applicants for passports who are under age, to ensure the acceptance of the mother's responsibility and permission where she has been divorced, or is living apart from her child's father but the child or young person is living with her.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The general rule is that a passport may be granted to a child with the consent of the legal guardian, who, under English law and in normal circumstances, is the father. If the parents are separated or divorced and the legal custody of the child has been transferred by order of the court to the mother, the rights, as well as the duties of guardianship devolve upon the mother, subject to any conditions mentioned in the order, so long as the order of the court remains operative. Passport facilities would be granted in such a case with the consent of the mother, due regard being had, however, to any rights, such as the right of access to the child, which may have been reserved to the father by the court order.

Mr. Sorensen

What happens if there has not been this legal transference and the child is staying with the mother while the father is elsewhere and his acceptance is not easy to secure?

Mr. Lloyd

In such a case there is a certain discretion which can be exercised about the issue of passports.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that passports are often issued without any inquiry of the kind he has indicated, and that once a passport is issued no further inquiries are made either by the Foreign Office or by the Home Office before the child is taken from the country either by a relative or by some person who is not in any way, related to the child?