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Radical shake-up of Home Office

Source ITN

Updated on 29 March 2007

The Home Office is being split in two under radical plans to shake up the beleaguered department previously described as "not fit for purpose".

Under Home Secretary John Reid, it is keeping responsibility for police, immigration and border control and will include a new office for security and counter-terrorism.

Meanwhile, a Ministerial Committee on Security and Terrorism will be chaired by the Prime Minister.

The prisons and the probation service will join the courts system at the Department of Constitutional Affairs, which is to be renamed the Ministry of Justice from May 9.

Mr Reid told the House of Commons: "We are refocusing the Home Office - not for the first time in its history - towards the priorities of today's world and the priorities of today's people."

He stressed that Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett will retain control of MI6 and Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly will retain her responsibilities for community cohesion.

Mr Reid: "I should make it plain that no portfolios, no responsibilities will be taken from existing Government departments."

The Home Secretary has repeatedly made clear his frustration with the unwieldy nature of the existing Home Office set up - parts of which he famously declared were "not fit for purpose".

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis accused Mr Reid of "disgracefully" trying to smuggle this announcement out in a written statement on the last day before a recess.

He told Mr Reid: "You have failed to secure a new Cabinet post for national security and will not be given control of the overall anti-terror budget.

"Therefore, you will not be able to drive the counter-terror effort every hour of every day in the way that it clearly needs. As for the split of the Home Office, the logic presumably is that this job is too difficult for you to do."

© Independent Television News Limited 2007. All rights reserved.

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