John Reid is to split the Home Office into two separate departments one for security and the other for justice in the next six weeks. Mr Reid said the changes were needed to meet the changing threats to focus "towards the challenges of today's world, and focus on the priorities of today's people". The Department for Constitutional Affairs will absorb probation, prisons and prevention of re-offending and will become the Ministry of Justice. The Home Office will deal with terrorism, security and immigration. Lord Falconer will remain as head of the DCA but he would not be secretary of state for justice, it would now be a role for an MP rather than a peer.
Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons that Britain's counter-terrorism capabilities were "the best in the world" but still needed to be improved. Mr Blair said he was "strengthening" the home secretary's role to give him the lead responsibility for dealing with threats to the UK "including their overseas dimension". The Foreign Secretary, Defence Secretary and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, would still have responsibilities within a national security committee which would meet once a month.
Charles Clarke, Mr Reid's predecessor said the problem with the department was "a lack of co-ordination between its various elements". Mr Clarke said the split would be an"irresponsible decision which further delays the reforms which are critically necessary throughout the criminal justice system. The coherence and coordination of the criminal justice system which is so important for its success will be damaged seriously by these proposals".
The Conservatives oppose the split. Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "The logic, presumably, is that this job is too difficult for the home secretary to do. It has been well run in the past by home secretaries of all parties, when it was much bigger and still had responsibility for licensing, gambling, broadcasting, fire, civil defence, human rights, equal opportunities and charities. Breaking it up will solve none of the Home Office's problems. It will just create a whole new raft of problems."
Q. Should the Home Office be split into two seperate departments?
To view the results go to: