§ Ms Ruddock
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many(a) British visitor passports and (b) British excursion documents were issued last year; and what was the cost in each case;
(2) what plans he has to abolish the British visitor passport and British excursion document;
(3) what plans he has to consult relevant organisations about the future of the British visitors passport and the British excursion document; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Charles Wardle
In 1988, the Home Affairs Select Committee recommended that urgent consideration should be given to the withdrawal of the British visitor's passport as soon as the computerisation of the passport-issuing process was fully operational. This position has now been reached and in September 1993 the United Kingdom Passport Agency began a review of the suitability of the British visitor's passport and the British excursion document as alternatives to the standard passport for travel abroad. The review is considering document security, international acceptability, customer choice and convenience, and other relevant factors. About 1,972,800 British visitor's passports, and 249,000 British excursion documents were issued in 1993–94 at a cost of £12 and £3 respectively.
The Passport Agency has consulted widely on the review, and detailed responses have been received from travel agents, tour operators, transport and shipping associations, consumer groups and interested organisations within Government. The Passport Agency will be reporting its findings to me in the next few months, when a decision will be taken.