23rd Oct, 2017

Picture proves extent of Passport Office backlog, city MP claims

Coventry Editorial 12th Jun, 2014 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A CITY MP has applied pressure on the government over delays in the Passport Office.

Geoffrey Robinson led a group of Labour MPs to question a minister after hearing complaints from constituents.

Applications are said to be at their highest level in 12 years with 350,000 more received between January and May than in the same period last year.

Mr Robinson said the department needed to be ‘brought under control’ and called on its head Paul Pugh to resign.

He raised the story of one city family who missed their first holiday with children after a six-week tug of war with chiefs over their application.

Holiday-goers are told applications should take three weeks but are also warned to only book holidays after receiving their passports.

Fellow city MP Jim Cunningham also claimed government cuts had taken its toll during Tuesday’s adjournment debate in the House of Commons.

But home office minister James Brokenshire rejected the comments and said the department was dealing with a surge in applications because of an upturn in the economy. The PCS union has also threatened to strike over what its officials described as a jobs crisis.

He said Mr Robinson was wrong to claim there had been a 20 per cent cut in personnel and claimed staff numbers had actually gone up in the last two years.

But the Coventry North West MP told the minister he left “the whole House incredulous with his simple, naive belief in the numbers presented to him”.

He added: “One of the problems is the government have left it so late to react to this burgeoning problem there is probably no time left to deal with it in the relatively short period before the holidays.

“That is one of the tragedies of the situation.”

Mr Brokenshire said more than 300 extra staff would be deployed by the end of June.

Last week a Home Office spokeswoman told the Observer there was no backlog whatsoever and that the vast majority of applications continued to be issued within target times.

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