Norman Baker talks about immigration, conspiricies and taking on Teresa May

Norman BakerThe Independent today carries an interview with the new Lib Dem Home Office minister, Norman Baker. You know, that minister of conspiracy theories according to some media wags.

In his interview, Baker comes across as eminently sensible and defiantly Liberal. He is poised to reign in Teresa May’s excesses and tells the newspaper that has been told by Nick Clegg to range across all policy areas to “make sure there is a liberal voice clearly heard in the Home Office.”

Baker claims that the Home Office has been raising the profile of its anti-immigrant rhetoric to disguise the failing of its immigration border controls. He says that new rules to force landlords to check potential tenants’ immigration status before renting them housing will be trialled, not rolled out in one go as May wanted:

We have got to make sure we don’t end up having a huge burden on landlords, that we don’t end up having indigenous British people who may not have a passport or driving licence finding it difficult to get rented accommodation.

Most important, we want to make sure we don’t end up driving people underground.

The Lib Dems will block the landlord check policy if the trial fails.

Baker lashes out at those infamous “Go Home” vans. He also says that it will be difficult to reach a common policy position with the Conservatives on drugs policy. He is discontented with May’s Data Communications Bill, which is set to grant sweeping powers to the police and the security services to monitor internet use.

And what of those that ridicule him as a conspiracy theorist? Norman dismisses them as “somewhat hysterical” and in any event historical:

If people want to raise the book from years ago, then I suppose they can raise that… I’m concentrating on what’s happening in the next 18 months.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk.

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