HC Deb 28 February 1940 vol 357 cc2091-2W
Mr. Boothby

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the conditions which at present prevail at the passport control office, under which applicants for exit permits are normally kept waiting for many hours, and sometimes for days, thus causing great personal inconvenience and waste of time; and what steps are being taken to provide an efficient passport service?

Mr. Peake

With the exception of travel to France, with which country there are special arrangements, it is the policy of His Majesty's Government, on security and other grounds of national importance, to restrict overseas travel in time of war, and to grant exit permits only to applicants who can show that the proposed journey is in the public interest. Each application has therefore to be considered on its merits, and some delay is in these circumstances inevitable. Priority of treatment is given to applications for permits for business reasons, and I am satisfied that these cases are being dealt with as expeditiously as possible. The staff of the Permit Office have been working under great pressure since the outbreak of war, and commendation is due to them for the success with which they have dealt with an entirely novel problem. I am aware, however, that complaints of delay have been made in individual cases, and my right hon. Friend has accordingly appointed an inter-departmental committee under my chairmanship to consider in all their aspects the various difficulties both of principle and practice which constanly arise, and to suggest methods for meeting them.