19 March 2008 We received a petition asking: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Require the Secretary of State for Defence to be the sole responsibility of a single Minister." Details of Petition: "The complex and demanding brief of Defence cannot be handled by a minister who has other portfolios, such as the shared responsibility of Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary of State for Scotland. The role of Secretary of State for Defence must be a sole responsibility of a single Minister, otherwise it undermines decision-making ability and sends the clear message that defence is a part-time concern. We therefore call on the Prime Minister to reshuffle the Cabinet to reorganise the Defence portfolio so it is the sole responsibility of a single Minister, and to establish it as convention that this is to be the case henceforth." Read the petition Petitions home page Read the Government's responseThe Government holds our Armed Forces in the highest regard and the Secretary of State for Defence's priority remains the defence of the UK, the success of our ongoing operations and providing the best possible support to our Service personnel and their families back at home. Since Des Browne was appointed as Secretary of State for Defence in 2006 he has continued to give the role his full attention. For example, he has visited Afghanistan and Iraq on twelve occasions, three visits of which have taken place since he was appointed as Secretary of State for Scotland at the end of June 2007. The Secretary of State's record speaks for itself. Since holding the two positions, the Ministry has delivered an improved operational welfare package, with additional council tax relief and free post beyond the Christmas period; further financial and practical support to assist in speeding up inquests; a review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme with improved compensation for those with multiple injuries; sustained outstanding operational medical capability; improved commitments and funding for accommodation, especially for single living accommodation; ongoing provision of equipment for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - with more helicopters and further Protected Patrol Vehicles. This demonstrates the Government's commitment to defence and to the men and women who serve with the utmost bravery in our Armed Forces. The Secretary of State is engaged in defence business seven days a week. Officials in his Private Offices in both departments liaise closely to manage diary commitments and through use of email and video conferencing facilities he is able to deal with defence business and make important decisions regardless of where he is located.