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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK

UK Politics

MPs demonstrate passport patriotism

Royal coat of arms could be replaced by a circle of stars

MPs have been called on to demonstrate their loyalty to British tradition and ensure the Royal coat of arms is kept on the cover of British passports.

[ image: Flight: plea for patriotism]
Flight: plea for patriotism
Speaking in the House of Commons, Howard Flight expressed his concern that the traditional passport cover and Royal exhortation inside could be removed from British passports without citizens' consultation as there is currently no law to ensure they remain.

Flight: "EU plans are to abolish any sense of nationality"
The Tory MP for Arundel & South Downs told the House that plans for European integration were intended to abolish all aspects of nationality within the EU and he described plans to standardise the passports of all EU countries as a "deliberate attempt to manipulate how we think of ourselves".

Time to draw a line

"The EU is not a country, it is not a state," said Mr Flight. "Flags and coats of arms are about shared historic national loyalties and identities and the cancellation without the consultation of our citizens will indicate the end of such enduring loyalties."

[ image: For now, the Royal exhortation remains]
For now, the Royal exhortation remains
Delivering his Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House, Mr Flight said: "Many may view having the royal exhortation in our passport as pretty pathetic.

"Some of us may not mind such things passing, but it can pass at present without any legal barrier whatsoever in five years time.

"To me this is not just the thin end of the wedge I think it is an issue on which it is worth drawing the line.

"We could all wake up in 2003 and find that we are issued with passports with the circle of stars," he said.

Imminent changes

Mr Flight's concern was sparked by changes to the British passport which come into effect on 5 October.

From that date the British passport will have a digitally produced photograph under the cover and digital security features on the data page.

The Royal exhortation will remain on the inside cover but the phrase 'European Community' will change to 'European Union'.

The Bill will be read for the second time on 9 October but stands little chance of becoming law.

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