HL Deb 13 July 1967 vol 284 cc1258-9

3.18 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give consideration to an extension of the period of validity of the British passport from the existing 5 years to 7½ years, with a resultant renewal period of 15 years instead of 10 years.]


My Lords, at a meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in April, 1947, on passport and frontier formalities a recommendation that the total validity of a passport should not exceed 10 years was adopted. Her Majesty's Government supported this recommendation. Consideration is being given to the desirability of introducing a passport which would be valid for 10 years from the outset and which would not be renewable. I hope that a final decision on this matter will not be too long delayed.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his courtesy and for that far-from-unhelpful reply, may I ask him whether he is aware (though I do not quite see how he could be) that I myself happen to be in the throes of obtaining a new passport at the moment, so that I should declare an interest? Would he not agree that for an increasing multitude of travellers the adoption of my proposal would save much time, labour and irritation in the purgatory of form-filling and in the odious necessity for obtaining fresh photographs—generally caricatures of the individual—one of which has to be countersigned by some kind friend who must perjure himself by saying that it is a true and good likeness of the applicant? And all this, my Lords, before these wretched applicants can obtain a passport and proceed abroad upon their lawful occasions.


My Lords, I must confess that I was not aware that the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, was in the throes of the appalling ordeal which he has described to us so graphically. I must assure him, having known the noble Lord if not for ten years at any rate for five years, that I think any photograph of him taken now—provided the camera does not lie—would make him even more handsome than he was five years ago. I agree with the noble Lord that anything which can be done to minimise the amount of forms which have to be filled in and the amount of work which has to be carried out, not only by the applicant for a passport but by those who have to deal with the applications, will clearly be in the interests of good administration, the travelling public and the country at large. For that reason this subject is being investigated at the present time, and, as I say, I hope it will not be too long before some change can be announced.


My Lords, if and when the new ten-year passport is introduced, could there be a few more pages in it, as the period of its validity is to be increased?


My Lords, that is a suggestion which will certainly be borne in mind, and I personally endorse it.