Theresa May apologises for passport application delays

Home Secretary Theresa May has apologised for delays in processing passport applications and insisted the Government is doing all it can to deal with the situation.

Theresa May: Passport demand highest for 12 years

Speaking in a debate on passport delays, the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, told the House of Commons:

Her Majesty's Passport Office is dealing with the highest demand for passports for 12 years, while the surge in demand usually experienced during the summer months started much earlier in the year. As a result, a number of people are waiting too long for their passport applications to be processed.

– Theresa May MP, Home Secretary

Ms May was speaking in a Commons opposition day debate called by Labour, in which many MPs highlighted the plight of constituents experiencing passport delays.

Read: Theresa May apologises for passport delays

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Theresa May says sorry for passport application delays

Home Secretary Theresa May has apologised to those affected by the recent delays to passport application.

"I would like to say to anybody who is unable to travel because of a delay in processing their passport application that I am sorry and the Government is sorry for the inconvenience they have suffered and we are doing all we can to put things right," Ms May told MPs.

It follows an apology from the head of the Passport Office, Paul Pugh yesterday.

Passport Office facing most 'challenging' time for years

by Emily Morgan: ITV Political Correspondent
 British and Irish passport.
General view of the current British and Irish passport. Credit: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

The Passport Office chief executive Paul Pugh said the agency was facing a challenging situation the like of which has not been seen in recent years, after apologising for the delays.

He said the Passport Office is dealing with 480,000 applications. Around 90% are being processed within targeted time.

Passport Offices chief apologises for delays to MPs

The head of the Passport Office has apologised to applicants who have suffered delays after coming under considerable pressure from MPs over a backlog crisis at the agency.

Paul Pugh, chief executive of HM Passport Office, said: "I absolutely recognise the anger and distress that some people have suffered and I would like to put on record that yes, where we haven't been able to meet the customer's needs, yes, certainly, we are sorry for that."

Passport Office chief, Paul Pugh gives evidence to Commons Home Affairs Committee
The head of the Passport Office, Paul Pugh gives evidence to Commons Home Affairs Committee in London. Credit: Press Association Images

Mr Pugh also confirmed figures provided earlier to the Committee by Mike Jones, Home Office group secretary at the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), that as of yesterday around 480,000 passport applications were logged as work in progress at the agency.

After weeks of public anger, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a raft of measures aimed at clearing the backlog including dropping fast-track processing fees for passport applicants who need to travel urgently and 12-month extensions for people renewing their UK passports from overseas.

Keith Vaz: 'Passport Office is in chaos'

The Passport Office estimated a year ago that applications would surge by as much as 350,000 this summer because of overseas embassies shutting their passport desks and transferring operations to Britain, according to a report.

The HM Passport Office is in chaos and the Home Secretary's urgent action shows the true scale of the problem.

The agency needs to ensure that these measures are implemented as quickly as possible. Whilst it is important that every possible step is taken to reduce these delays, it is irresponsible to override security measures.

We will be asking Mr Pugh for a full explanation of what has happened and specifically how these emergency measures are being put in place.

It is vital we have the full facts in order to understand whether this government agency is still fit for purpose.

– Labour MP Keith Vaz, the home affairs committee chairman

After weeks of mounting public anger, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a raft of measures aimed at clearing the backlog.

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Head of the Passport Office faces a grilling from MPs

The Passport Office boss faces a grilling from MPs today in the wake of thousands of people seeing their holiday plans put in jeopardy because of a backlog of applications.

Head of the Passport Office faces a grilling from MPs. Credit: PA

The agency was accused of being in "chaos" and its head Paul Pugh will appear before the influential home affairs select committee to explain the long delays in handling cases.

The Passport Office has been accused of presiding over a shambles, and last week interviews for first-time applicants for passports were suspended in London as staff struggle to deal with the 30,000 backlog of applications, which are normally dealt with in three weeks.

A Home Office spokeswoman said it was normal practice during busy times to redirect people to passport offices outside of London, and that only a "handful" of people had been affected.