Home Department written question – answered on 5th February 2014.

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Photo of Michael Crockart Michael Crockart Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to protect members of the public who go online to apply for or renew a British passport and are misled into using a non-government internet website which charges a fee and takes no responsibility for the outcome of the application.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Minister for Immigration

The website is the only provider of the British passport and passport applicants should use the official Government website.

All third party sites stating that they are offering passport services are required to carry a clear disclaimer that they are not an official passport site or affiliated in any way to Her Majesty's Passport Office. The Government Digital Service is leading a cross-Government exercise with organisations such as the Office of Fair Trading, the Advertising Standards Authority, search engine providers and various trading standard bodies to curtail the activity of websites that advertise their services in misleading ways, using existing consumer protection legislation.

Ministers are planning to meet with Google early this year to discuss its enforcement of its own terms and conditions for advertising on its search results pages.

Where Government has become aware of websites which make misleading claims in their advertising it has brought these complaints to the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Her Majesty Passport Office also continues to work with the Association of British Travel Agents to raise public awareness of third party websites.

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