|UK passport backlog 'reaches half million'
Britain's Passport Office was forced to deploy hundreds more staff to deal with a backlog in applications approaching half a million, as the issue threatened to become a fresh political row.
Many applicants complain they are having to wait weeks longer than normal for new or renewed passports, putting holiday plans in jeopardy with the summer school break just a month away.
The Home Office says it currently has about 465,000 applications.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who had previously denied opposition claims of a passports ''crisis,'' said the problem was caused by a ''very, very high'' level of applications at the start of the year.
But the Public and Commercial Services union blamed job cuts and office closures for the long delays.
The passports issue threatens to become another row at the heart of government, hot on the heels of a dispute over the handling of Islamic extremism allegations in schools.
Labour's home affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper said May's answers to parliamentary questions on the passports backlog were ''incredibly complacent.''--AFP