It was an abysmal performance by Theresa May today on the abject failures of her department. Two years ago, Newport was told that the job losses were regreattable but would create a 'smaller but more efficient passport service'. The present crisis is one of predictable and predicted chaos.The cost of overtime and emergency staff will outweigh any reductions that the cuts achieved. Many thousands of people have suffered severe worries and financial losses because of the failures to distribute passports on time. Today's measures are panic ones. They must be replaced with a restructing of the Passport Service.
Two years ago, the lives of 150 loyal and efficient workers in my constituency were devastated by a closure that the Government described as creating a smaller but more efficient passport agency. Others predicted today’s chaos. Will the Home Secretary find it in herself to have the common sense and the humility to apologise for the ineptocracy the Government have created?
Yes, there have been changes in the way the Passport Office operates. The Passport Office has been operating efficiently and effectively in dealing with people’s applications since those changes were made. We now have a period of higher demand than we have seen for 12 years. That high demand is now being addressed by a number of steps that have been taken, but we will look at how the Passport Office should operate more efficiently in the future to ensure that it offers the best possible service.
When the Government get around the restoring the Passport Office from its present emaciated and failing state to the efficient service it had been for the previous century, may we have a debate on the need to ensure that those areas that suffered the savage cuts two years ago, such as Newport, have the first call on new jobs?
The hon. Gentleman had a chance to ask the Home Secretary a question about that earlier. I fear that his characterisation of the Passport Office is not helpful, not least for his constituents and others. As he will have heard from the Home Secretary, the Passport Office is continuing to provide substantially the service intended. Where problems have occurred, new staff are being deployed, both in call centres and in case handling, and the Home Secretary has just announced other measures that will enable constituents to get the service they are looking for.