To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the conclusions of the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration of 24 March 2010, if he will review the provisions of his Department's contract with Abtran to provide a customer enquiry service in respect of passports handled on behalf of his Department; what assessment he has made of the conclusions of the report in respect of the adequacy of arrangements for handling passport applications by his Department; and if he will make a statement.
We accept the findings of the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration of
We have re-tendered the telephone passport inquiry handling contract and a new commercial partner is now in place to handle customer inquiries; we no longer use Abtran. Customers contact the new provider who will escalate their inquiry to the passport issuing post where necessary.
We agree that the service that was provided to the customer in early 2009 fell considerably short of what the customer should have expected. We had previously written to the applicant to apologise and will be writing again. We are arranging for prompt financial settlement and a further consolatory payment to be made as recommended in the ombudsman's report.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)'s passport operation is going through a period of considerable change in advance of integration with the Identity and Passport Service on