Government 'earns £15 off each passport'

Emma Woollacott
a new british passport with a...
a new british passport with a...

You paid £15 too much for your last passport, according to a government committee, which says the government is "exploiting its citizens".

In a report published today, the home affairs committee is also demanding compensation for travellers affected by delays issuing passports earlier this year. The report points out that HM Passport Office has built up a £124 million surplus over the past two years, despite dishing out record overtime payments to staff and paying £674,000 in bonuses.

Citizens, say the MPs, are paying more than they should. The cost of producing and issuing a passport is just £57.71, yet travellers are charged £72.50.

Passport backlog leads to shocking mistake

"Whilst it is right that applicants are asked to cover the cost of the passport, it is clear that the price they are paying is too high," they conclude. "The state should not be exploiting its citizens by making a profit on what is a basic right."

The report also calls for refunds for those people who paid for a fast-track passport this summer. After the Passport Office took over responsibility for issuing passports overseas, a massive backlog built up. At one point, claim unions, more than half a million passport applications were waiting to be dealt with.

Fast-track passport fees dropped

Fast track fees

As a result, many worried travellers forked out £103 for a fast track passport to ensure they'd get their documents in time. However, on June 12, ministers announced that many people would be given the fast track for free - unfair to those who'd already paid, says the committee.

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson blames many of the problems on the decision to give the passport office agency status, removing it from direct Home Office control.

"It was Theresa May who closed overseas passport offices without putting in place any plans for thousands more passport applications to be dealt with here in the UK," he says.

"This totally flawed decision came into effect at the start of peak season after she had removed hundreds of staff who could have helped deal with the influx, and despite sitting on a passport office surplus of £124 million from the past two years. It's a clear case of total mismanagement from the home secretary."

Committee chairman Keith Vaz agrees that the passport office should be brought back under direct ministerial control. "They have delivered a shamefully poor service to the estimated 5.6 million British citizens living abroad," he says.

Read more about passport delays in AOL Money:

30,000 hit by passport backlog: PM

Fast-track passport fees dropped

Passport disaster: woman ends up with wrong photo in passport

Home Secretary Apologises for Passports Delay
Home Secretary Apologises for Passports Delay