HC Deb 12 June 1967 vol 748 cc92-3
52. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the anomaly whereby female travellers cannot travel singly on a passport in the name of the husband and wife; and if he will take steps to provide a dual passport which can be used by either husband or wife singly.

Mr. William Rodgers

Yes, Sir. This arises from a recommendation of the Geneva Passport Conference of 1926, which is still in force internationally. It would be wrong for the United Kingdom to change the rule unilaterally, since British wives travelling alone on joint passports could then run into difficulties abroad, owing to other countries not recognising their passports as valid in the absence of their husbands.

Mr. Roberts

Would my hon. Friend not agree with me that this is a matter not of an extra 30s. for a passport but of the treatment of the wife as a sovereign citizen and not merely part of the husband's chattels?

Dame Irene Ward

Is not this a ridiculous situation, and did not the Minister give a ridiculous answer? Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider it? Cannot the House make representations in the hope that some sensible recognition will be taken in this kind of connection? The whole thing is absolutely idiotic.

Mr. Rodgers

I fully understand the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend and the hon. Lady, but this is a matter in which we must have reciprocity or we shall not gain the advantage—[Laughter.]—by which I mean that Members of this House will not gain the advantage which would come from reciprocity.

Mrs. Lena Jeger

Will my hon. Friend try to press in the discussions for the complete abolition of joint passports? Surely it is an absurd anachronism for any woman to be on any man's passport?

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I think it is fortunate that Question Time has run out.