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Passports: Grounds For Withdrawal

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 30 July 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether British citizens are entitled to expect that passport facilities will be withdrawn only in clearly defined circumstances which have been reported to Parliament; and, if so, what are the current circumstances in which the Government would exercise the right to withdraw passport facilities. [HL3055]

The circumstances in which a British passport would be withdrawn have been reported to Parliament on a number of occasions, the last being 7 February 1995, and have not changed. Withdrawal of a passport would be considered:

  • (a) if it came to the Passport Agency's attention on replacement that it had been issued incorrectly; and
  • (b) on the same basis as the refusal of an application. That is in the case of:
  • (i) a minor whose journey was known to be contrary to a court order, to the wishes of a parent or other person or authority in whose favour a residence or care order had been made or who had been awarded custody; or care and control, or to the provisions of Section 25(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by Section 42 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, or Section 56 of the Adoption Act 1976, as amended by the Children Act 1989;
  • (ii) a person for whose arrest a warrant had been issued in the United Kingdom, or a person who was wanted by the United Kingdom police on suspicion of a serious crime;
  • (iii) in very rare cases, a person whose past or proposed activities were so demonstrably undesirable that the grant or continued enjoyment of passport facilities would be contrary to the public interest;
  • (iv) a person repatriated from abroad at public expense until the debt has been repaid.
  • asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider giving the present arrangements for issuing and withdrawing passports a statutory basis. [HL3056]

    The Government have no plans to change the present system under which passports are issued in the United Kingdom at the discretion of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in overseas posts, both exercising the Royal Prerogative.In practice, refusal and withdrawal of passport facilities to United Kingdom nationals is confined to certain well defined categories, of which Parliament has been informed from time to time. Although the issue of passports is a discretionary power under the Royal Prerogative, it is constrained as any statutory power might be, and the exercise of the discretion may be reviewed by the courts. The system has worked well and it has been generally accepted, under successive Administrations, that the exercise of the Royal Prerogative has not been abused.