‘Sorry’ the hardest word for Home Secretary over passport chaos

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12 Jun 2014

Newcastle’s MP Paul Farrelly today called for compensation for people whose holidays or  travel had been ruined by the current shambles at the Passport Office.

His comments came as Home Secretary Theresa May faced a tortured, hour long session in Parliament following an Urgent Question by Labour over huge delays and a massive backlog in passport applications.

‘For the past few weeks in my office, we have been trying to help people left desperate by the passport chaos,’ Mr Farrelly said today in the House of Commons.

‘The country will have noticed how the word ‘sorry’ not once passed the Home Secretary’s lips, nor did she touch on compensation.’

‘It’s only fair, if people have made applications in good time, and in good faith, that they be compensated for losses – for cancelled holidays for example – caused by the shambles.’

Labour MPs pointed to cuts in passport office staff since 2010, with repeated warnings over the years, as the root cause of the fiasco.

They also demanded that the Home Office pay back the extra £55 it had demanded to ‘fast track’ passports for urgent travel which had been stuck for weeks in the system.

Mrs May pointed instead an unanticipated surge in applications this year, to a 12 year high and announced a limited number of measures to cut times for people applying for British passports from overseas.

Loyal backbenchers on her own side, meanwhile, tried valiantly to come to her aid – with some resorting to blaming the increase, and the crisis, on a ‘feel-good factor’ from economic recovery.