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Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what considerations govern the number of sub-post offices permitted to handle passport applications.

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the chief executive of the Passport Agency, whom I have asked to reply.

Letter from John Hayzelden to Mrs. Anne Campbell, dated 26 July 1993:

The Home Secretary has asked me, as the chief executive of the Passport Agency, to write to you in reply to your Parliamentary Question about passports.

The UK Passport Agency has a contract with Post Office Counters Ltd (POCL) under which they issue British Visitor's Passports (BVPs) and stock application forms for standard British passports. BVPs are issued only at Crown Post Offices in England, Wales and Scotland and at sub-Post Offices that were previously, Crown Post Offices and at certain designated sub-Post Offices at ports and airports. By restricting the issue of BVPs to these offices, we can ensure close control over the issuing arrangements and the security of blank BVPs.

Application forms for standard passports (for issue at one of the Passport Offices located at Belfast, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport and Peterborough) are available at the same Post Offices as those that issue BVPs. This means that the application forms are available at some 1,500 Post Offices in total, as well as at travel agents and Passport Offices. In deciding whether to extend the current range of outlets for passport application forms, we have to balance cost against customer need. Our surveys indicate that at present some 93 per cent. of passport applicants find our forms very easy or fairly easy to obtain, but we shall keep the matter under continuous review.