§ Mr. Winnick
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what complaints his Department has received concerning the telephones at the passport office in(a) London and (b) Peterborough being constantly engaged; what steps are being taken to provide more telephone lines and staff in order to reduce waiting times for renewal of passports; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what is the average length of time now occurring between a United Kingdom passport being received in (a) the London office and (b) Peterborough and its being renewed; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Renton
Correctly completed, non-urgent passport applications of all types are being dealt with within 54 working days at the London passport office and within 28 days at Peterborough. Urgent applications are given priority.
The difficulty of contacting passport offices by telephone is a frequent source of complaint. New telephone systems, with additional exchange lines for incoming calls, were installed at both London and Peterborough during 1987, and use is made at both offices of recorded message facilities to enable more calls to be handled. However, the number of calls received far exceeds the capacity of the systems and the provision of additional telephone lines alone would not solve the problem. Efforts are therefore being directed towards reducing the present delays in handling postal applications. I announced on 31 March in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) at column 679, a number of special measures to help achieve this, including the recruitment of additional staff. Over 30 additional casual staff have since been recruited at the London office. At Peterborough, where space is limited, an additional 10 staff are being recruited.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why Mr. and Mrs. David Guyatt of 134, Shoebury Road, Thorpe Bay, Essex, who submitted a passport application, ref. 2/0402/03, on 3 February, have not yet received their passports despite a number of letters and inquiries about the urgency of the case for business purposes; and if he will take steps to ensure that they now receive their passports.
§ Mr. Renton
The passports were posted on 19 April.
Inmate A Inmate B Inmate C February March February March February March After legal visits — — — — — — After other visits — 2 — 3 1 —