asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made on replacing the present passport with a common format EEC passport; how many pages it is planned to have machine read for computer storage and retrieval; what safeguards will be provided to prevent abuse; whether passport information will be fed to any other Government Departments and for what purpose; and if he will make a statement.
We intend to introduce the common format passport at the same time as we adopt the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendations for a simplified standardised international format with machine readable capability. A considerable amount of work remains to be done to assess the costs and the technical problems, and until this has been completed the Government cannot set a date for its introduction.The new passport will include one laminated page with a machine readable margin. In line with ICAO recommendations, the only personal details given will be the holder's name, nationality, and date and place of birth. No other area of the passport will be machine readable.When passport information is stored in a computer it will be given the same protection and privacy as the existing passport records. It will continue as at present to be available on request to other Departments of the Government, such as the Home Office and the Inland Revenue.