TORY MP Nigel Evans is calling on the Government to give free passports to children in care, as part of a millennium charity scheme being launched by travel agents.

Speaking to the Association of British Travel Agents, the Ribble Valley MP also called on ministers to waive air passenger tax.

Mr Evans praised the ABTA millennium scheme to take every child in care in the UK on holiday during the year 2000 and said it was a "clear example of the business sector caring for those in need."

But he urged Tourism Minister Janet Anderson, to lobby her ministerial colleagues to demonstrate their support for the scheme.

"The most tangible thing they could do is waive the air passenger tax, which the Government levies on all outbound passengers. This would be a great boost to the scheme and demonstrate their support," he said.

And he has written to Home Secretary Jack Straw, asking him to support the scheme by waiving passport charges for the youngsters.

"In many cases the youngsters will not have passports and sadly many of them will have little use for one after their holiday.

"The Government should give more than a pat on the back to the travel industry, it should give a hand-out," he added.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.