Home Office Restructuring

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 11:31 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of John Reid John Reid Home Secretary, The Secretary of State for the Home Department 11:31 am, 29th March 2007

I notice that the hon. Gentleman managed to avoid saying that this is something for which he has been asking for some considerable time. I heard him this morning make an extraordinary statement, saying, "It is the right thing to do, but we do not like his reasons for doing it. This is the way to fight terrorism, but it is all to do with personal ambition." I will leave the psychoanalyst role to him.

Let me give the hon. Gentleman a few facts. I do not think that he could have been more profoundly wrong on every single particular that he mentioned. First, on the civil servants, his constant running down of certain aspects—I do not mind acknowledging faults—and his refusal to accord any credit where improvements are made, is what depresses people. For several months, civil servants have been involved in discussing the matter, from the permanent secretary down.

Secondly, during that time, there have not been any leaks from the Home Office. There has been one newspaper article, which I wrote and briefed around. There have been 10 other leaks. None has come from the Home Office and all have criticised and misrepresented the plans. Thirdly, unfortunately, it is those misrepresentations on which he has based his analysis. Not for the first time, an hon. Gentleman has spent a lot of time decrying those who apparently chase headlines, and spent the rest of his time chasing the headlines, making the headlines or basing his story on the headlines. The Prime Minister will still oversee the strategic national security elements. He will chair the new integrated committee. The Cabinet Office will service that committee. He will still have a national security adviser. It will not be the Home Secretary who chairs that.

It is simple facts such as those that are the first step towards a rational discussion. If the hon. Gentleman wants to learn the facts, I will invite him in, but I ask him please not to base his arguments on spurious and misrepresentative reports in the press.

Finally, if the hon. Gentleman thinks that it is a good idea to have a ministry of justice, by definition, that would leave the Home Office refocused on those elements that are not part of the ministry of justice. That is precisely the position that I have arrived at. I know he finds it difficult, but there is an old rule: do not ask for something unless you consider the fact that you might get it. He has just got it. He might welcome it.