Home Office
Identity &
Passport Service


House of Commons

Identity and Passport Service
Parliamentary & Correspondence
Management Team

4th Floor Peel Building SE
2 Marsham St

Tel (020) xxxxxxxxxx
Fax (0870) xxxxxxxxxx
Email xxxxxxxxxx
Web www.ips.gov.uk

Our Ref: PG/11/202/9139

7 June 2011



Thank you for your letter dated 26 April 2011, enclosing a letter from Mr David Moss. Mr Moss has written to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) on a number of occasions outlining his view that standard adult passports should cost £23. In response we have laid out the constituent costs that make up the passport fee and the need for the replacement of the current passport application system.

The current passport system handles approximately 5.5 million passport applications each year and IPS is trusted to handle the personal information included in those applications in the most secure way possible. That means it is of the utmost importance that we must maintain the integrity of the passport application system. There is also a need to adapt to new technology, since the introduction of the current application system 12 years ago there have been several security enhancements made to the passport booklet, including the introduction of the electronic chip and biometric photograph. These enhancements are key in the fight to keep one step ahead of those who seek to produce fake travel documents. The way people apply for a passport is also changing and there is a government wide push towards more online provision of services. The most cost effective way to accommodate these changes and to 'future proof' the application system against future developments is to deliver an upgraded system now.

Far from Mr Moss's accusation that IPS is 'cocking a snook at the public, at the Cabinet Office, at the Efficiency and Reform Group and at the political will of the Coalition." the Agency is looking at the whole organisation to deliver real savings over the Spending Review period. As my last email to Mr Moss indicated, IPS has already delivered savings of around 14 million on the new passport system, following the halting of second biometric passports in line with the Coalition Agreement commitment to do so.

The decision to invest in the new passport system was subject to rigorous scrutiny from Home Office Group Investment Board and HMT before the commitment was made.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Rapson
Chief Executive and Registrar General for England and Wales