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Passports

Oral Answers to Questions — Freign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th February 1973.

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Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Merton and Morden 12:00 am, 28th February 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to end the issue of family passports.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

No, Sir. There remains a considerable demand for the family, passport.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Merton and Morden

May I remind my right hon. Friend that Queen Victoria is dead? Is it not about time that a system was ended whereby the husband but not the wife may travel alone on the passport?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

Although Queen Victoria is dead, we still have families.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

The right hon. Gentleman should not treat this question so frivolously. There is a serious anomaly here. So long as these family passports are issued they should be freely usable by each person whose name is on the passport. It is humiliating to the wife if the passport is in joint names. Will he undertake to consider that aspect of the problem?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I take the point, but the hon. Gentleman will realise that the limitation at present in force is based on recommendations of an international conference held in 1926. The countries concerned accepted the recommendations. Any change in our practice could be made only after consultation with the other countries. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it would not be worth while issuing a passport which was not accepted by recipient countries.

Photo of Mr William Deedes Mr William Deedes , Ashford

Will my right hon. Friend undertake to reconsider this matter? Quite apart from the consideration which my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Miss Fookes) has in mind, is my right hon. Friend aware that the family passport gives rise to considerable difficulty and abuses in relation to immigration control? For that reason alone, it should be looked at again.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

But it is also very much cheaper, and a high proportion of families going abroad for their holidays take advantage of this facility.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Foreign Secretary

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his replies are both frivolous and irrelevant and, I imagine, command no support anywhere? Would he please take note of the view of the House that, clearly, a convention of 1926 ought to be reviewed by now, that he should initiate the review and report to the House quickly with his recommendations, after an unprejudiced study of the situation?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

The right hon. Gentleman's proposal would involve doubling the cost of passports for families taking annual holidays abroad.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Foreign Secretary

May I press the Minister on this? He is putting up a series of defensive answers. Is it not possible for a family to choose whether they will pay the new cost or stick to the original passport? Let the right hon. Gentleman show a little flexibility, and have a decent review of this situation.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I really cannot see what the right hon. Gentleman is talking about. There is every flexibility. No one is saying that the family must have a family passport. It is only that they are given a cheap passport if they take a family passport. They can always have a separate passport for the husband and for the wife.

Photo of Mr William Deedes Mr William Deedes , Ashford

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.