ExeterAnna l Flickr.com
ExeterAnna l Flickr.com

Yesterday, was Labour’s Opposition Day in the House of Commons. We chose to use half of the time allocated to us to raise the problem of backlogs at the Passport Office.

Backlogs are not exclusive to the Home Office. It has become a feature of Tory governance.  This is backlog Britain.

For example, last year, my team and I had helped hundreds of residents whose documents were stuck at the DVLA. Leading up to Christmas, shoppers faced empty shelves due to a shortage of HGV drivers. 1 in 9 people in England are on an NHS Waiting List.  Passengers are waiting for hours at airports without knowing if they will be able to fly on their holidays and high streets across the UK are struggling to hire staff. 

But Priti Patel’s Home Office deserves a special mention and the passport backlog is an example of what’s going wrong and how it affects our lives. I wrote about this crisis a few weeks ago in my blog and also brought it up during my weekly speech in the House of Commons. 

The Home Office was warned in November 2021 that a surge in passport applications was likely. They completely failed to do the forward planning needed to prevent the chaos we’ve seen over the last few months. People with passport delays are affected in different ways: 

  • They can’t visit very sick relatives in another country;
  • They are unable to show ID for a job or a home;
  • They can’t travel outside the UK for work.

And of course people who have waited through two years of Covid restrictions and want to take a holiday. 

At a time when the cost-of-living crisis is hitting the country hard, the Home Office is forcing families to pay for fast-track passport services or face losing hundreds to cancelled holidays.  The target for passport processing has been increased to 10 weeks, up from 3 weeks pre-pandemic.  However, even this increased target is being repeatedly missed. In the first three months of this year alone, over 35,000 people had to wait longer than 10 weeks for their passport to be issued. This is despite the Prime Minister’s claims that everybody is getting their passport within 6 weeks. 

The chaos in the Passport Office is just one example of a complete failure on Priti Patel’s watch. Crime is up, prosecutions have collapsed, anti-social behaviour is rife, and the Home Office are making half the asylum decisions they made five years ago.   

Boris Johnson and the Tories are presiding over backlog Britain. Waiting lists across government are crippling our economy, costing the taxpayer billions and preventing British people from getting on with their lives. The British public deserve better. 

Labour’s motion yesterday censured the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, for his handling of the crisis at Her Majesty’s Passport Office; and asked him to come to the House to apologise for the tens of thousands of people who have waited more than six weeks for their passport.  

This government is failing to act over chaos they are responsible for. 

This is Backlog Britain and the country deserves better. 

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