asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as recent events have shown that the passport system does not hinder undesirable characters either leaving or entering the country but does have a nuisance value for law-abiding people, if he will consider raising the matter in the proper channels with a view to the abolition of passports.
I do not accept the suggestion that passports have no value. They are an essential document of identity for British subjects traveling abroad and a necessary part of the United Kingdom system of control of aliens. Her Majesty's Government have no present intention of proposing the abolition of passports.
Does the hon. Gentleman not appreciate that many people are of the opinion that passports serve no useful purpose for the good and are no deterrent to the bad? Will he state whether any person can leave and enter this country without a passport?
Any British subject can leave this country without a passport, but I know of no country where he is likely to be received if he arrives without a passport. As to the opinion which the hon. Gentleman expressed, I would remind him that the Geneva Conference on Passport and Frontier Formalities recommended that the general abolition of the passport for purposes of foreign travel is not feasible at present.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that this is largely a matter for international negotiation and agreement, and will he continue to give his encouragement to the Council of Europe Assembly and other organisations which are trying to simplify these formalities, including the abolition of passports?
We shall do all we can to promote the simplification of passport formalities.
Has any action been taken to ensure that undesirable persons do not obtain British passports on the submission of false particulars? Ronald Chesney had four passports.