Do you expect the Secretary of State for Transport to be able to strip down an engine and put it back together again? Do you expect the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to have a Golf handicap below 10?

OK, I'm exaggerating slightly to make the point but to expect ministers to be experts on the area of policy for which they are responsible is unrealistic. What they can do is learn about what they need to know and ensure they have advisers who can give them the detail they need to make the decisions. In fact the snippet above demonstrates a minister doing exactly that, taking advice and learning what something technical relating to their department actually means.

I'd love it if all our ministers were experts on their particular areas but to seek this to be the case prior to appointing them and/or firing them if they do not achieve some arbitrary level of knowledge within a set time frame is not feasible. It also, taken to its logical conclusion would require ministers to have worked perhaps for many years in the specific field they are responsible for which could lead to problems akin to producer capture where the minister is overly biased in favour of the sector for which they are responsible.