NEWPORT MP Paul Flynn today called for the resignation of Passport Office chief, Paul Pugh, saying his going would be "no loss to the country.”
His call came as MPs questioned the Home Secretary Theresa May over the passport backlog in an opposition day debate in the House of Commons.
Paul Flynn was joined by Newport East MP Jessica Morden in the debate tabled by Labour to address the delays which have led to many people having to cancel travel plans and pay additional fees.
Mr Flynn said: “The Newport office is no longer a fully fledged office. In this crisis hundreds of people were forced to go to Liverpool. We've got half a passport office in Newport which is a disgrace as Wales deserves at least one fully fledged passport office."
The Home Secretary said: “The Newport passport office continues to operate as a customer support centre with 150 full-time posts.”
Chief executive of the passport office, Paul Pugh, told MPs he would like to “apologise dearly” for the backlog of applications, at the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday.
But the apology was not enough for Mr Flynn, who said: “I think there would be great satisfaction from the many people who have been badly treated by this government and by Mr Pugh, if he did resign.
“It’ll certainly please them and it will be no loss to the country.”
Mr Flynn said he had been representing passport workers since 1972 and knows the service well.
He said: “Newport passport office was closed in 2011. It’s nonsense to say it didn’t lead to this crisis. Of course it’s important that the closures that were made then have lead to this crisis. There would be 150 trained people there who would be working to keep this backlog down if it hadn’t been closed.
“The government have a duty, when they start to restore the emaciated passport service that’s left, that they look to put the jobs back from the areas they were so cruelly torn away in 2011.”
Ms Morden said: “I don’t understand why the current delays have come as a surprise to the Home Office, the signs have been there for years, but they persisting on pursuing the cuts.
“These staff who have warned repeatedly over the past four years that cuts to services would affect customers, have been proved right.
“The government, as they try and solve this problem, should look to put those 150 jobs that we lost in Newport back in. We’ve got the space, we’ve got the experience.”
Mr Flynn added: “The whole crisis was predicted and predictable. There’s a refusal to take responsibility, to take blame. The people of Newport remember (2011) and I’m sure they will remember that next year.
“This foul-up will become one of the signature foul-ups of this government.”