Wednesday, 18 June 2014
The passport fiasco
You may have noticed that there seems to be a bit of a problem at the Passport Office. This is of particular interest to me because Mrs D needs to renew her passport, so I've been paying attention.
There's a backlog. Well, this is actually not really surprising because it's, well, that time of year when the demand for passports is at a peak. Just before the main holiday season. So just how desperate is the backlog? According to Labour it's about 500,000 applications but according to the Tories it's nearer 30,000. Bit of a difference, really.
There's 60,000,000 people in the UK, so 500,000 applications would represent around 0.83% of the population. Given that we're talking about applications here not actual passport holders, that seems to be to be just a little overhyped. It depends how you count them. Either you can express the figures as the total queue or you can talk about those over the three to four weeks it usually takes to process these things. Lies, damn lies, and statistics...
Needless to say there's a computer system involved. There's a new one that has been rolled out that also pulls in the applications that used to be done overseas so that's added to the problem. After all, we know just how good the government is at implementing new computer systems. Systems like the one that screwed up last time the Passport Office was involved. Remember that one?
But the stupidest thing I've heard so far about this mess is that Labour are pressuring the government to strong arm holiday insurers into covering the full cost of people's holidays if they can't go because they don't have a passport to hand. And that's just plain stupid.
I travel a bit - well, lots actually - and one thing I do know is that insurance companies will cover you for costs incurred if a passport is lost or stolen but won't cover you if you're stupid enough to book a holiday without having a passport. Stupidity is not an insurable event.
Now whether the government should assume responsibility for buggering up your holiday plans by taking longer than usual to process a passport application is a mute point. Personally, I think not but the insurance companies are certainly not going to cough up.
Here's a suggestion. If the government do cave in and decide to offer compensation, how about we take it out of the three million quid that International Development Secretary Justine Greening - another useless token female in the cabinet - is going to piss up the wall in Iraq?