§ Lord Gray of Contin
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress has been made towards establish-ing the Passport Department as an Executive Agency.
I am pleased to announce that the Passport Department of the Home Office will be established as an executive agency on 2nd April. The full title of the agency will be the United Kingdom Passport Agency. My right honourable friend will be placing a copy of the agency's framework document in the Library.
The main aim of the Passport Agency will be to provide passport services to British nationals promptly and economically. The agency will be starting from a sound base in fulfilling this aim. I am confident that the enhanced freedoms and responsibilities which the framework document grants to it will enable it to deliver further improvements in its service to customers while providing better value for money.
The key targets which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has set the agency for its first year of operation are:—
- (i) to reduce the time taken to process properly completed, straightforward applications to a maximum of 20 working days in the period of peak demand from January to July and to a maximum of 10 working days at other times.
- (ii) to reduce unit costs by at least 2.3 per cent. in real terms.
The chief executive will be directly accountable to my right honourable friend for the performance of the Passport Agency. An advisory board including two private sector members with experience of delivering services to the public will help my right honourable friend to assess the agency's performance.