COMMONS

Future of the Newport Passport office - report published

03 February 2011

The Welsh Affairs Committee today publishes its Report, 'The Future of the Newport Passport Office'. The Report is the Committee’s contribution to the Government’s public consultation on its proposal to reduce the size of the Newport Passport office, announced on 19 October 2010.

In the Report, the Committee considers the impact of reducing the size of the Newport Passport Office on the economy of Wales and on services to the people of Wales.

The MPs were concerned that the significance of the Newport Passport Office, as the only passport office serving the people of Wales, had not been truly appreciated by the Government.

The Committee recognised the importance of the office as the second largest employer in Newport city centre. As a consequence, MPs noted, the closure of the passport application processing centre would have a significant economic impact on the city.

MPs were critical that no economic impact assessment of the decision has been published on an area which has suffered long-term effects from the closures of the heavy industry on which its prosperity was once founded.

The Committee is not convinced by the Government’s argument that long-term savings will be achieved by reducing the size of the Newport Office.

The rationale behind the closure does not take into account a proper examination of the long-term advantages of consolidating its services in Newport.

Based on these concerns, the Committee advocated that the Government should re-examine and re-evaluate the criteria on which the decision was based.

Comments from the Chair 

The Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee, David T.C. Davies MP, said:

"On the evidence we have seen, the Committee has concerns about the rigour of the appraisal and consultation process which led to the decision to close the passport application processing centre at Newport.

 

We therefore consider the rationale for the decision to be questionable. The piecemeal nature of the announcements made by the Government in October and the subsequent extension of the consultation period suggests the lack of a co-ordinated strategy regarding the future of the Identity and Passport Service in Wales.

 

The closure of the passport application centre at Newport would have a significant economic impact on the city. We find it extraordinary that no economic impact assessment has to date been published for public scrutiny. We strongly recommend that the Government publish the Economic Impact Assessment before a final decision is made and that its findings are fully considered.



The Government should use the extended consultation period to question again the rationale behind the decision, taking full account of an economic impact assessment, and the whole process needs to be presented in the context of a properly thought-through strategy for the IPS in Wales."

Further Information

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