I have long thought that all this rubbish about the Home Office being far too big and needed splitting up was, as Bernard Ingham might have said, bunkum and balderdash, and was merely a figlead of an excuse to cover Charles Clarke's huge embarrassments. Expect it to be revived by the good Doctor John over the next few weeks. So it was with great interest that I saw this Written Question from Conservative MP David Lidington on 17 May. He asked the Home Office to list those responsibilities transferred from it to other Departments and vice versa since 1997. The Answer shows 24 functions transferred out of the Home Office and only 3 new responsibilities travelling the other way, of which two are of trivial importance. The functions leaving the Home included: human rights, freedom of information and data protection, gambling, liquor licensing, election law and the fire service - all weighty matters. Ministers should therefore have had a lot more time to focus on the remaining core responsibilities of the Department. It reinforces the view that it's is not so much that the Home Office being too big and unwieldy, but the incompetence or idleness of Ministers that is the real problem.
Written Answers 17 May col. 1038W
Home Office Responsibilities
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list areas of policy responsibility which have been transferred (a) from the Home Office to other departments and (b) to the Home Office from other departments since 1997. 
Mr. Byrne[holding answer 8 May 2006]: The information requested is as follows.
A. Areas of policy responsibility transferred from the Home Office since 1997: 1. Transfer from the Home Secretary to the Lord Chancellor: (a) the Monarchy (b) titles (c) ceremonial matters (d) the relationship between the administration of any of the Channel Islands or of the Isle of Man and the Crown or a Minister of the Crown (e) human rights (f) bodies or organisations established or incorporated by Royal Charter (g) appointments (h) ecclesiastical matters (i) marriage (j) access to information (including, in particular, the subject matter of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000), and
(k) buildings and structures in London 2. Functions passing from the Home Secretary to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: (a) gambling (b) horse-racing (c) liquor licensing, (d) late night refreshment (e) public entertainments (f) video recording (including, in particular, the subject matter of the Video Recordings Act 1984), and (g) films (including, in particular, the subject matter of the Cinemas Act 1985). 3. Functions passing from the Home Secretary to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry: (a) street trading and pedlars, and (b) fairs 4. Functions passing from the Home Secretary to the (then) Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions: (a) fire services and fire precautions (including, in particular, the subject matter of the Fire Services Act 1947 and the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and any provision which relates, or in so far as it relates, to a fire authority) (b) elections, and (c) bye-laws 5. Functions passing from the Home Secretary to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: (a) animals
17 May 2006 : Column 1039W
B. Areas of policy responsibility transferred to the Home Office since 1997 1. Functions passing from the (then) Secretary of State for Education and Employment to the Home Secretary: (a) work permit functions. 2. Functions passing from the Secretary of State for Scotland to the Home Secretary (a) appointing a member of the Poisons Board under Schedule one to the Poisons Act 1972. 3. Functions passing from the Lord Chancellor to the Home Secretary (a) appointing a Conservator under section 12 of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act 1871.