Immigration minister's role is cut in shake-up

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Indy Politics

The new Immigration minister is to be stripped of responsibility for counter-terrorism measures in a shake-up of Home Office roles, the Government said last night.

The responsibility will be switched from Des Browne, who took over the post last week following the resignation of Beverley Hughes, to Hazel Blears, Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety minister. The move is seen as a recognition that the Immigration minister is overloaded with responsibilities, including preparing for the expansion of the European Union and the introduction of identity cards.

In her counter-terrorism role Ms Hughes had to read countless police and intelligence reports, although the burden was shared with David Blunkett, the Home Secretary.

Last night's announcement followed Tory accusations of "muddle", with the Downing Street website listing Mr Browne last night as the lead minister on counter-terrorism. The Home Office said in a statement: "Ms Blears will deputise for the Home Secretary on domestic security through counter-terrorism policy and legislation, the police, and the security and intelligence work of the Security Service."

A spokesman for the Tories, who are pressing for a Cabinet-level minister for Homeland Security, said: "It appears [there is] disarray over who is in charge on this issue."

Earlier, the Home Office said the ban on visitors from Romania and Bulgaria, which was imposed during the furore that cost Ms Hughes her job, would be lifted next week.