To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long it is now taking his Department's office at Peterborough to process legitimate passport applications.
Correctly completed non-urgent applications are now being dealt with within 26 working days. Urgent applications are given priority.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many requests for the urgent return of passports were received by his Department during February from people whose passports had been sent to the Home Office before 31 December 1987 in connection with applications for British citizenship.
No comprehensive statistics are available concerning the number of such requests. The practice is to undertake searches when urgency is established.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there has been an increase in demand for passports; what action is being taken to avoid delays in the handling of passport applications in advance of computerisation of the passport offices; and if he will make a statement.
So far this year overall demand for new passports and for amendments to existing passports has been over 25 per cent, up on the corresponding period of 1987. In anticipation that this heavy demand will continue throughout the summer months a number of special measures are being taken to help reduce delays at the passport offices. These include:
- Hong Kong
- Antigua and Barbuda.
Information about these arrangements, including the operative dates of agreements with other countries, will be made available through the travel trade, on Prestel, and through the media.
The phased programme of computerisation of the United Kingdom passport offices is due to begins in July this year. Glasgow will be the first, and arrangements are in hand to disperse work on postal applications now done in London to that office as soon as practicable following computerisation, to relieve the pressures on the London office. Computerisation of the remaining five passport offices should be completed by the end of 1989.
Computerisation is designed to enable the passport offices to cope with the anticipated rises in future demand for passport services without the excessive and unacceptable delays that have arisen in recent years with the present outdated manual system of passport production.