It has been the case since 2009 that the Home Office does not require 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. All personal data is added to the biometric chip in the passport in the UK and this will continue to be the case with the new contract.
The preferred bidder, Gemalto, is an experienced and trusted company which already works with the Government on the production of UK driving licenses, UK Biometric Residence Permit cards and on e-gates at the border. The terms for this procurement process have also been completely transparent. They 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.
It is also true that the preferred bid 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.
However, the Government has granted a two-week extension to the process to decide who will make the new passports. De La Rue has requested a 'standstill period' which has been agreed to by the Home Office. The standstill period purpose is to allow unsuccessful bidders to challenge the decision before the contract is signed. This means a final decision will now be made on Tuesday 17th April and I will await the decision with interest