The Secretary of State for the Home Department (the Home Secretary) is the chief United Kingdomgovernment minister responsible for law and order in England and Wales; his or her remit includes policing, the criminal justice system, the prison service, internal security, and matters of citizenship and immigration. The Home Office has also previously dealt with social issues, including social exclusion, equality and race relations. Responsibility for social exclusion is now held by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. However, the Home Office continues to have responsibility for race equality, charities, the voluntary sector, and community policy.
Unlike many other governments, the British government has separate departments for the issues dealt with by the Home Office and for legal, judicial and civil rights issues; these have been dealt with by the Lord Chancellor's Department. Although there have been calls for the merger of this department with the Home Office, in June 2003 the government announced that it intended instead to abolish the office of Lord Chancellor and replace his department with a Department for Constitutional Affairs headed by a Secretary of State.
Because the Home Office was initially the primary government department with responsibility for domestic affairs, all subsequent domestic departments have effectively been created by taking responsibilities from the Home Office, leaving in addition to law and order a variety of miscellaneous tasks that have not yet been allocated to a government minister. Consequently the Home Secretary can find themselves dealing with matters as diverse as wild birds in Scotland, which towns in England and Wales are entitled to call themselves cities and formal ceremonies annointing bishops in the Church of England. It is, however, the law and order function of the department that predominates overwhelmingly.
In many states the statesecretary of state is often third in line to assume the office of governor upon death or resignation of the incumbent, after the lieutenant governor.
During a sede vacante, the former Secretary of State (the appointment expires when the pope dies or resigns) assumes some of the functions of the head of state as a part of a temporary commission.
According to the constitution, secretaries of state may be instated and fired by Royal Order (which means by the minister), but in practice these positions are usually created and held for the duration of the cabinet and they can even be used as bargaining chips in coalition negotiations.
Secretary of State for the HomeDepartment, Ex parte Parvaz Akhtar  Q.B. 46 where expressions are reported to the effect that the immigration officer had "reasonable ground" for finding that the applicant had entered in contravention of the immigration laws, and had reasonable grounds for believing the applicant to be an illegal entrant.
Secretary of State for the HomeDepartment, Ex parte Zamir  A.C. 930 was a case of habeas corpus: in the instant cases the effective relief sought is certiorari to quash the immigration officer's decision.
Secretary of State for the HomeDepartment, Ex parte Khan  1 W.L.R. 1466, where it was held that the innocent wife who obtained leave to enter on a false passport procured for her by her husband was an illegal entrant, was rightly decided.
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