Author Archives: Norman Baker MP

Norman Baker MP writes…Why the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill is compatible with human rights

Data CenterAs a party we care deeply about human rights. Left to their own devices, the Conservatives would have pulled us out of the European Convention. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, we have stopped that from happening.

So I am concerned by some suggestions that the emergency legislation we published on Thursday isn’t compliant with the ECHR. This is simply not true.

As many of you will know, in April this year the European Court of Justice overturned the EU Data Retention Directive. They did so on the basis that this …

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Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 38 Comments

Norman Baker writes… “We’re not turning into authoritarians!”

Today the Independent published a story about the Coalition Government’s plans to reform anti-social behaviour legislation.  I know that many Lib Dems may well be concerned by the story. Indeed, if it were true I would be worried! But it is not. It is utter nonsense to suggest we are targeting skateboarders, ramblers, youngsters playing in their local park, or anyone else going about their daily lives perfectly reasonably.

In reality the new anti-social behaviour powers are designed to protect such activities. Rather, the power is designed to stop problem drinking, aggressive begging, dog fouling – any behaviour that spoils the …

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Norman Baker MP writes… Proud of the Lib Dem record on crime prevention

Two weeks is a long time in politics. In a few days I’ve gone from high-speed rail, environmental issues, and cycling to anti-social behaviour, drug policy and tackling violent crimes. It was a fantastic opportunity to work in the Department of Transport, and I know Susan Kramer will make an excellent Minister. We have achieved a lot in a short period of time, and I know Susan will continue to develop positive, progressive and sustainable transport policies.

I am very pleased to have been appointed as Minister for Crime Prevention, and continuing the good work which Jeremy Browne has done in …

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Norman Baker: something to get people out of their cars and on their bikes

bicycle route signYesterday the Coalition Government announced a dramatic boost to cycling funding, reaffirming our commitment to promote safer cycling and to get more people to switch from four wheels to two.

As the Lib Dem Transport Minister, I have worked hard to champion cycling within government and to increase investment in its infrastructure. I am delighted that we have now announced the biggest ever single cash injection for cycling funding in England. We are spending nearly £150 million to make cycling easier and safer.

Our party has long recognised the overwhelmingly positive …

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Norman Baker MP writes…Peter Mandelson is wrong: HS2 is vital

You may have seen earlier this week that Peter Mandelson (the man who gave us the fiasco of the Millennium Dome) came out and questioned the cost of High Speed Rail. I found this particularly rich coming from a key member of the Government which crashed the British economy.

The Government’s plans for High Speed Rail (HS2) come on top of the significant package of investment in our railways that we have already announced which alone represent the biggest investment by any government in the United Kingdom’s rail infrastructure since the 1840s.

HS2 is an absolutely essential investment, not simply because it …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 46 Comments

Norman Baker MP writes… High Speed 2: Transforming our national rail network

High speed rail Medway - Some rights reserved by Matt's photostreamIn the two centuries since the Golden Age of British railways, from the opening of the Stockton and Darlington line in 1825, Stephenson’s Rocket and the railway boom of the 1840s, Britain has tumbled from the position of being the envy of the world, to lagging sadly behind. The busiest sections of our old Victorian railways are now struggling to cope as the railways become increasingly popular. As anyone who travels regularly by train as I do will know, the West …

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Norman Baker MP writes… Green light for more green buses

Last year there were an estimated 2.3 billion bus passenger journeys in England. More people up and down the country get to work by bus than by all other forms of public transport combined, and over 50% of students use them to get to classrooms and lectures. More than that, they provide a life-line for rural communities and just as vital in cities in terms of reducing traffic jams and air pollution by getting people out of cars. But even while people are reducing their carbon emissions by hopping on the bus rather than using their cars, we want to …

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Norman Baker writes … Rail fares

I passionately believe in the railways. They have the potential to bring the UK huge economic and environmental benefits. But ever-increasing train fares could also turn people away and back onto the roads. As a sustainable form of transport, trains need our support and in return they will help deliver growth and a cleaner, low carbon economy.

It’s so important that we let rail passengers and the public know that we really are on their side.

Ending inflation-busting rail fare hikes has been a Lib Dem policy for a long time, …

Posted in News | Tagged | 11 Comments

Norman Baker MP writes… A virtuous circle for cycling

Many of you will know that I don’t need to be asked twice to wax lyrical about the benefits of cycling. Cycling isn’t just about getting from A to B. Quite often it’s the quickest way of getting around, not to mention the healthiest, most environmentally friendly and the most predictable. It’s wallet-friendly, for those of us with an eye on rising fuel prices, and it’s space friendly, at a time when parking spaces in town and city centres are both at a premium and becoming increasingly expensive to use. Each car parking space could fit up to 20 bikes, …

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Norman Baker MP writes… Helping people make smarter transport choices

Transport accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s emissions, but people want to travel and they want to travel further and more often. Good transport infrastructure is also essential to a well-functioning economy, so how do we square the circle?

The Lib Dem approach is to say that it isn’t about choosing between growth and carbon reduction: it’s about reducing carbon emissions from transport. That’s why the Lib Dems in Government are overseeing the of spending £2.4bn on transport improvements; the biggest rail expansion programme since Victorian times; electrification of over 800 miles of railway compared to the 9 miles …

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Norman Baker responds to tar sands campaigns

Over the last week or so, visitors to the Lib Dem Voice may have seen articles purporting to outline my position, and that of the government’s, on the EU Fuel Quality Directive and the treatment of tar sands within it.  These articles have been misleading to say the least.  We in the Lib Dems have a proud history of fighting climate change and campaigning for environmental causes.  This is no different in the coalition and no different to the approach I am taking on the Directive.  I wanted to take this opportunity therefore to provide some facts which

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Norman Baker writes… Towards a smarter public transport system

As readers of Lib Dem Voice will know, it has long been our party’s aim to create a transport system in this country that moves people towards low carbon options, including modal shift to public transport. This is not only crucial to achieve our environmental goals, but is also important to move away from our reliance on oil from, in particular, politically unstable countries.

So how do we do this at a time of austerity, when the Department for Transport has had to reduce its budget by £638million? We need to be smarter. We need to look at …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Opinion: Why the death of Dr David Kelly simply will not go away

More than three years after Lord Hutton published his Inquiry report, the death of Dr David Kelly simply won’t go away.

It won’t because Lord Hutton, charged with examining the circumstances of his death, did nothing of the sort, instead devoting nearly all his energies to refereeing the spat between the Government and the BBC. It won’t because his report was widely derided upon publication as a whitewash which might as well have been written by Alistair Campbell. But most of all it won’t because the conclusion that the government weapons inspector took his own life cannot be supported by …

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