Coffee House

Is Theresa May worried by passport backlog?

11 June 2014

Theresa May hardly needs another row this week after losing one of her special advisers as a result of last week’s bust-up. But the occupational hazard of running the Home Office is that one of its agencies can suddenly spin out of control, and you’re the one left trying to end the chaos.

The Passport Office is always a prime candidate for this sort of trouble, not least because its operations are the kind of things that, when they go wrong, can really upset voters. Not much point in pontificating from the dispatch box about budgets for hardworking families when they find they can’t take the holidays they’ve been working hard to afford.

Whether this at all damages May – who tends to emerge from Home Office rows unscathed – depends on whether the latest batch of delayed applications is down to the Passport Office being disorganised or a ministerial decision causing problems. But a combination of May’s efficacy as Home Secretary and a failure on the part of the Opposition to cause or capitalise on Home Office rows means she’s unlikely to see this as a political threat. She certainly doesn’t see it as being serious enough for her to need to go on the defensive personally: the minister answering the questions on the Today programme this morning was James Brokenshire. Given May is a famous micromanager, that she’s prepared to leave one of her juniors to do this job suggests she does not see the delays at the Passport Office as a serious problem for her department.

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Show comments
  • True_Belle

    I suspect the staff were all off on compassionate leave .. perhaps in … Iraq/Syria/ Afghan/ Somalia etc etc?

  • True_Belle

    These red passports are becoming as common as muck..

    I think the real us should be given our old Blue passports for life!

    • ARP2015

      Perhaps you could use one of your crayons ..?

      • True_Belle

        Something wrong with your eyes, Pike?

        • ARP2015

          You’d best tidy up and find them then ..

  • Isaac Phiri

    There’s a backlog. I’m still waiting, now four weeks, for my infants passport. 2 days left before our holiday flight. I don’t think it’s coming…. They typically take a couple of weeks. If I cancel my flights do you think I at least get the tax back for a service I didn’t use? No…. Screwed by the civil service twice over….

    • George Smiley

      Well, all passport application forms clearly state that applicants are not to make any travel plans before and until the successful receipt of their British passports. Caveat emptor and all that.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Passport backlog: Haven`t we been here before?
    Passport renewal could easily be handled by Central Post Offices which is what happens here in Japan. Takes about a week.
    Next problem?
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • Hexhamgeezer

      If you are talking renewal of UK passports overseas then there are generally no problems – especially when you are near a replacement ‘hub’ embassy.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “replacement ‘hub’ embassy”
        Flash to 21st century reality.

      • George Smiley

        Those provisional and transitional regional passport application processing centres in selected major British diplomatic and consular posts have all now been closed down, and applications from overseas now generally have to be made directly with the Passport Service through the Post.

    • George Smiley

      No, because the Department for Homeland Security, the State Department and Grosvenor Square (United States Embassy) said no (or else they might consider requiring British citizens to apply for American visas); and there are no such thing as “central post offices” here in England anyway, partly thanks to the EU.

  • Peter Stroud

    Mr Brokenshire explained the problem as being due to an unexplained increase in applications for passports. This might be due to improving economic conditions, putting more money in people’s pockets – hence more holidays overseas. Staff numbers, in passport offices! have increased, according to the minister.

    • kievjoy

      It’s stupid making one place responsible for all. My friend had his passport destroyed by the illegal army in Crimea. He is still waiting for his passport after 11 weeks.

      • George Smiley

        Good, if the delays from the additional security checks would make sure that he is the actual passport replacement applicant, that he is who he says he is, and not some desperate Ukrainian refugee from the Crimea or some other Ukrainian, ethnic Russian, Russian-speaking Ukrainian or Russian trying to pass off as him! He can always also apply for a British “Emergency Travel Document” directly with the British Embassy in Kiev in lieu of a national British passport in the meantime, can’t he?!

        • kievjoy

          He is staying here for a while yet, but his passport is also classed as his ID. Over here you can’t do anything without it.

          • George Smiley

            Not really different from being in any other Country outside of the Old Commonwealth that has and issues (usually compulsory) national identity cards, which would usually also require aliens, or foreign nationals to carry, possess and produce their national passports at all times. Still, he should also try to apply for a separate British “Emergency Travel Document” directly with the British Embassy in Kiev, even if he in fact have no real plan to actually travel. He would probably have to cook up a story to the Embassy.

            • kievjoy

              There is a time limit on the emergency travel document. He tried that.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Just 4 weeks ago my son applied for a new passport. Despite having lost
    the original (which had expired 12 years ago) the Passport Office got him a new
    one in only 3 working days. The staff at the Passport Office in Durham were efficient, helpful and courteous. Excellent service.

  • The Commentator

    So much for the cost of living crisis. Record number of people applying for passports so they can holiday abroad, with well-heeled benefits claimants at the front of the queue. Those food banks allow you to spend more of your disposable income on the things you enjoy.
    I would guess we have another 12-24 months before there is a currency collapse and a Greek-style default. Take full advantage of the NHS and government largess while it lasts.

  • realfish

    ‘…depends on whether the latest batch of delayed applications is down to the Passport Office being disorganised or a ministerial decision causing problems…’
    So you’ve accepted without question what a hard-left, politically motivated Trade Union fighting to retain their restrictive practices, tell you? And you’ve ignored the facts. I’m afraid that the PCS are stirring it up once again. There is no evidence of undue delays beyond the three weeks that the Passport Office require to process an application

    BTW, the Passport Office routinely warn applicants that as the summer approaches volumes of applications increase. They advise therefore that applications should be made earlier if possible…which is why I renewed mine in January to avoid the rush. I posted the application on the Friday and had my new passport delivered the following Thursday, using the bog standard service. Brilliant service (don’t tell Mark Serwotka will you)

  • Tony_E

    This is a simple question of people who don’t prepare in advance getting caught out simply because the government doesn’t work quickly enough to get them out of a mess of their own making.

    Don’t book a holiday abroad unless you have a passport or have given yourself a couple of months at least to obtain one. If your passport is about to expire, make sure you apply in good time for your next one. I have had two passports for two of my sons turned around this year in less than three weeks each. That was in January, for a holiday booked for the Easter break.

    This is simply the Westminster bubble trying to find something insignificant and very detached from the Minister to use as a stick to beat her with.

  • Mynydd

    Another day, another failure by Mrs May’s Home Office. On the radio this morning her minister Mr Brokenshire rubbished the union’s claim there was a backload of 500,000 passports. Yet only a few hours later the Passport Office, for which Mr Brokenshire is responsible, said the backload was 490,000. Of course typical of Mr Cameron’s government, everybody, other than them is to blame. Now it’s not only there are too many applying, but applying to late. Finally the latest advise from Mr Cameron/May’s Home Office, is believe it or not, do not book your holiday until you receive your passport. The only good thing that has come out of the last week is that it’s the end of Mrs May’s campaign for the Conservative party’s leadership.

    • realfish

      Another day another load of tripe from Mynydd.

      There is not a backload (whatever that is), and the advice to get your passport before booking is not new (latest) advice, it has been Passport Office advise (sic) for years.

    • HJ777

      Given that it takes typically 2-3 weeks to process a passport application, are you not confusing the number of passport applications currently being processed with a ‘backlog’?

  • dalai guevara

    Tee hee … now if that’s not conclusive proof yet again that post-Cameron, Green Gove is our bright and unifying future (in 10.75 months time as another regular put it), then I don’t know what could be.

  • swatnan

    Being a Govt Minister she gets the preferential, whizzing through passport control.
    Others are not so lucky, thanks to the deranged activities of these bl***dy islamists.

  • HJ777

    We are told that there is no backlog. Is there any evidence to the contrary?

    Apparently, passport applications have recently been at a record level. Given that a small percentage take longer to process, presumably for reasons of security or similar, then a greater number (but not necessarily a greater percentage) will take longer than normal so we will hear more stories about delays.

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    “Given May is a famous micromanager, that she’s prepared to leave one of her juniors to do this job suggests she does not see the delays at the Passport Office as a serious problem for her department.”

    Or she’s feeding Brokenshire (by name, a perfect casting) to the wolves. She has form, you know.

    • Mynydd

      Given Mrs May’s and also Mr Hunt’s form, it will not be Brokenshire but his SpAd that will be cast to the wolves.

      • Kitty MLB

        Labour on the otherhand are the wolves and
        the electorate the prey they slaughter for sport.

        • telemachus

          Mrs May is an attractive lady
          Easy on the eye I think is the phrase used in replies to the Queen’s speech
          She could for example model shoes
          And leave Govenment matters to the competent

          • Kitty MLB

            Oh I see, her beguiling feminine charms have worked on you
            too, little wasp. To be quite honest I am not surprised after
            Harriet and Yvette.. Theresa May has even made Ed Balls
            go somewhat pink for other reasons.
            No, she is quite perfect and capable within her present job
            and must stay until she becomes the next Tory leader and
            she will, dear wasp.. I shall wager on that.

            • telemachus

              She is finished after the Cunningham debacle
              Esther will be your next strong leadership candidate
              She is the second best scouser in politics
              Tag Andy

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