Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Splitting the Home Office, why now?

The BBC is reporting that John Reid is going to announce the splitting up of the Home Office tomorrow. If this is true it surprises me.

The fact that the prisons, probation and criminal law sections are going to be hived off and merged with the DCA, leaving behind a new slimmed down Home Office to focus on security and immigration, is not surprising in itself. Reid has mused about it publicly before, and in organisational terms it makes sense. Although slimmed down from its height (it lost responsibility for the third sector and community cohesion last year) Reid is probably right that the Home Office is too big for one man to manage.

But why do it now, at the fag end of Tony Blair's premiership? Its widely rumoured that Gordon Brown wants to do major surgery to the Machinery of Government when he moves into Number 10 (even the Treasury isn't safe). So some of Gordon's thunder is stolen, and we are likely to have two major, expensive, paralysing, upheavals in Whitehall within the space of a few months.

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