The Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Owen Smith, has today accused the UK government of putting the holidays of Welsh people at risk this summer, as passport queues grow, following the closure the processing facilities at the Newport passport office.
In 2010, the UK government cut 150 of the 300 jobs at the passport office in Newport and closed the processing facility from that office. At the time Welsh Labour MPs campaigned against the closure and warned Ministers that this would result in passport backlogs for Welsh travellers.
Owen Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Welsh Secretary, commenting on the passport processing turmoil said:
“The truth is the Tories made rash cuts to the Newport passport processing services in 2010 and Welsh holidaymakers are now paying the price.
“Welsh Labour MPs told the government in 2010 that cutting passport office jobs would result in exactly the backlog problems that travellers are now experiencing. Back then the Minister responsible, Damian Green, made the shockingly complacent response that the passport office had ‘excess staff capacity in its application processing’. This arrogance will infuriate the Welsh families who are now worried about whether they will receive their passport in time for a summer getaway.
“The Home Office and Prime Minister need to get a grip on this growing problem. At the moment they are burying their heads in the sand and blaming a spike in applications for the delays. However, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that demand for passports rises in the run up to holiday season. The UK government should have planned for this, but their obsession with cuts means they don’t have the appropriate services in place to deal with summer holiday demand.”