A number of constituents have been in touch regarding the new contract for producing the British passport and I do understand the concerns that have been raised.
The preferred bidder, Gemalto, was selected following a rigorous, fair and open competition. The company demonstrated that they will be best able to meet the needs of the passport service with a high quality and secure product at the best value for money for customers and the taxpayer. It will save the taxpayer approximately £120 million during the lifetime of the new contract, while the factories in Fareham and Heywood are expected to create up to 70 jobs across the two locations.
The terms for the procurement process are in line with UK law, as well as both EU and WTO rules, and will meet a key objective of Government procurement regulations which is to continually deliver the best value for money.
Gemalto is an experienced and trusted company already working with the Government on the production of UK driving licences, UK Biometric Residence Permit cards and on e-gates at the border. Under the new contract, all personal data will be added to the biometric chip in the passport in the UK.
Since 2009 the Home Office has not required passports to be manufactured in the UK. A proportion of passports have been made overseas since then, with up to 20 per cent of blank passport books currently produced in Europe with no security or operational concerns.
Whilst it is clearly regretful that a British company is not at the top of this bidding process, it will not be the first time that an overseas company has produced our passports.