10 June 2014 at 08.12 GMT
MPs are to quiz the head of the Passport Office over long delays in issuing travel documents that threaten to ruin summer holidays.
The Home Office has blamed the improving economy for an increase in people seeking passports to travel after an aggressive marketing campaign by holiday companies earlier in the year, the Times reported.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, has called on chief executive Paul Pugh to appear before him next week after union leaders said staff were struggling to deal with a backlog of up to 500,000 applications.
Pugh has insisted there is no backlog of applications but admitted that there had been an exceptional early summer demand. In the first five months of the year, 300,000 more applications were received than in the same period last year.
Vaz said the committee had summoned Pugh to appear before it to be questioned a week today.
He added: “I have been inundated with letters from people saying they have been waiting and waiting for their passport. This could not be happening at a worse time.”
Union leaders claim the delays follow the cutting of 300 jobs over the past four years.
Vaz alleged that Passport Office staff had been “borrowed” by the Home Office’s immigration section, which had exacerbated the problem.
Applications from UK citizens overseas are among those hit hardest after the Passport Office took over responsibility from the Foreign Office for the processing of all forms.
Its website said: “Her Majesty’s Passport Office acknowledges the frustration customers may be experiencing and will continue to review its guidance on estimated processing times.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly