HC Deb 25 July 1973 vol 860 cc1595-6
7. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the consultations with other Governments concerning the validity of family passports.

8. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will now issue individual passports to a family for the cost of a joint passport, provided such applications for the individual passports are made at the same time.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Balniel)

We have had consultations with some Governments and may be consulting others. Meanwhile, to remove any element of discrimination in the present system, we have decided that in future a wife may be issued with a family passport in her own name on the same basis as a husband.

Mr. Hamilton

The House will be gratified by that measure of progress, but will the right hon. Gentleman go a little further? In his consultations with other Governments, will he try to ascertain which of them would be prepared to accept all the adult members whose names are on a family passport and then suitably endorse our passports to that effect, so that adults whose names are on our passports will know that they can use the passports in the countries in question?

Lord Balniel

That is a suggestion for a joint passport. I am considering whether it is possible to issue joint passports. But there are difficulties. It would be a completely new departure, and international acceptance might be a problem. Problems of cost are also involved. All these matters will be looked into. Meanwhile, I hope that the House will be satisfied with the step that I have taken to remove all existing discrimination.

Mr. Chapman

Will my right hon. Friend go further and implement the proposal outlined in Question No. 8? Does he agree that if it were implemented it would remove entirely the suggestion of sex discrimination and would minimise the undoubted abuse of the joint passport for the purposes of illegal immigration? Is not my proposal feasible? From the charges which they make the Government make quite a profit on the issuing of passports.

Lord Balniel

I have studied my hon. Friend's proposal. Although no doubt it has certain advantages, he will recognise that it would mean issuing two passports for the price of one. That would be very difficult to justify.

Dame Irene Ward

May I, on behalf of a great many people, thank my right hon. Friend very much for the action that has been taken? It will be considered by many people in the country and in the House to be a very good step forward.

Lord Balniel

I appreciate my hon. Friend's remarks. I also appreciate the way in which the case has been advanced by hon. Members.

Forward to