Biometric Passports

Home Department written question – answered on 28th October 2005.

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Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the UK Passport Service decided the dates for its biometrics road shows; when notice of these events was given to the media; what criteria were used to decide which media organisations and reporters to contact; which media organisations were invited; when notice of each event was given to the public; what the cost was of each road show; and what the (a) dates and (b) venues are of further road show events.

Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The series of road shows was developed to build public awareness of the imminent changes to the passport and provide an opportunity for the public to try out the technology which will in time be used.

Decisions regarding the dates of the biometric road shows were dependent on the availability of the venues selected; the dates were agreed and venues booked on 16 August 2005. A wide range of local media organisations were contacted, including newspapers, television and radio stations, according to locality and size of readership/audience. In each case local BBC and commercial television and radio stations were invited to attend, along with the main regional/local newspaper(s). Notice of the road shows was provided to local media the working day before each event.

The dates and locations of the road shows were not released to the public in advance. As is usual practice, Ministers' movements are not confirmed in advance for security reasons. In addition, the road show stand was designed to attract passers-by (e.g. shoppers) and the local media. It would not have been able to accommodate a larger audience, had the road shows been publicised more widely.

A budget of £150,000 was set aside to cover the cost of the road shows. This included the design and build of the stand—a resource that could be used in further events, venue hire, staff costs and transportation/set-up of equipment. Feedback from members of the public who attended was on balance positive. Requests have been received from hon. Members for road show events in their locality, though no decision on further dates have yet been taken.

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Graham Lally
Posted on 31 Oct 2005 9:27 am (Report this annotation)

"As is usual practice, Ministers' movements are not confirmed in advance for security reasons." - does this have any truth to it, and/or has it been the case for a while? Or does "usual" refer to some kind of recent guideline imposed upon Ministers over the last few months?

One wonders quite what the point of the roadshow was if it (for the various reasons) is actively *dissuading* people from coming along and trying the technology out. You'd think that, if biometrics worked as well as they need to work, they'd be letting all and sundry come along to put it to the test.