§ Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway), of 12 December 2003,Official Report, column 480W, on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, how many letters were sent to members of the public where a passport could not be traced in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) to date in 2003. 
§ Beverley Hughes
The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the Integrated Casework Directorate's (ICD) Return of Passport Unit, which was set up in October 1999, issued 97 lost passport letters in the year 2000, 103 in 2001, 390 in 2002 and 251 so far this calendar year.
I have already now instituted new measures to ensure that in future (a) much fewer passports are held by IND and (b) where a passport does need to be retained it is for as short a period as possible and in a dedicated secure place.