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Foreign Office (Passport Department)

Volume 237: debated on Monday 24 March 1930

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24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in order to secure a reduction in the number of persons employed in the passport department of the Foreign Office and to obviate the annoyance to the public, he is taking any steps to reduce the necessity for carrying passports and securing visas?

As I informed the House as recently as the 26th of February, the passport system has a very real value in connection with the white slave traffic, and also, in view of the unemployment problem in this country, for the control of immigration, as explained in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Kennington (Mr. Matters), on the 6th of November. The Passport Office is not concerned with the issue of visas, but I would observe that agreements for the abolition of visas have been concluded with a considerable number of European countries, including those most frequently visited by British subjects.

Is it actually necessary for passports alone to employ 264 people in the Foreign Office?

When you employ anyone you set that person on and these people have not been set on during the régime of this Government. The right hon. Gentleman must have clearly understood that from my first reply.

May I press for an answer to a very plain question, whether the right hon. Gentleman really considers that for passport purposes it is necessary to employ 264 people?

As the late Government thought it necessary I o employ them, surely the right hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot object to me continuing them.