Clarke attacks Home Office split

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Former home secretary Charles Clarke clashed with his successor in the Commons today over plans to break up the home office. In a terse exchange, the Norwich South MP said the move was “irresponsible” and would delay much-needed reforms.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Former home secretary Charles Clarke clashed with his successor in the Commons today over plans to break up the home office.

In a terse exchange, the Norwich South MP said the move was “irresponsible” and would delay much needed reforms.

Answering an emergency Commons question, Dr Reid said a new office for security and counter terrorism would be set up in the Home Office. The department would also shed responsibility for some of its work into a new Ministry of Justice.

But Mr Clarke swiftly condemned the decision, adding it was particularly damaging to much-needed reforms of the prison and probation service.

“This irresponsible decision further delays the reforms (that are) critically necessary throughout the criminal justice system,” he said. “The coherence and co-ordination of the criminal justice system will be damaged by this proposition.'”

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But Dr Reid hit back: “I disagree with you on every point. I respect your judgments, but I don't think they have always been right in the past.”

When some MPs gasped at that remark, Mr Reid added hastily: “No doubt I will make mistakes.”

In his statement, Dr Reid, who previously slammed the department as 'not fit for purpose', said: “This morning we have refocused the home office towards the realities of today's world and the priorities of today's people.”

The Prime Minister asked him last year to carry out a review of counter-terrorism. The changes were aimed at producing “a step change in our approach to managing the terrorist threat to the UK and to winning the central battle which is the struggle for values and ideas”.

Dr Reid said the government would create a more coherent ministerial committee system and set up a new office for security and counter-terrorism.