Lewes Lib Dem MP Norman Baker warns that the claims made for fracking have been exaggerated, and the downsides underplayed.

Norman Baker MP for Lewes, East Sussex has tabled a debate for Tuesday 25th November in Westminster Hall at the House of Commons.

The theme for this debate is Fracking and he has said his focus is “I am highly sceptical about the value of fracking and believe it has lots of downsides”

Norman will say that fracking:

  • Risks derailing the major investment in renewables now occurring
  • Requires unacceptable quantities of fresh drinking water, putting a strain on resources, especially in the south-east
  • Presents a major challenge to efforts to tackle climate change, especially through methane emissions, but also through the extraction of shale oil, likely in the south east
  • Will threaten protected areas and leave the countryside pock-marked
  • Generate large numbers of lorry movements down unsuitable roads
  • Cannot meet the claims made for it in terms of extraction rates
  • Is generally losing public support

He will call for a shift of emphasis towards renewables and away from fracking.

The debate happens 9.30am Tuesday 25th November in Westminster Hall at the House of Commons.

A statement from Norman Baker MP

Letter from Norman Baker to Nick Clegg

Dear Nick,

I am writing to confirm my request, which I first raised with you in August, to take a break from ministerial office when a convenient moment arises. I understand this is likely to be next week.

You will know that I have spent four and a half years in ministerial office, three and a half at the Department for Transport and the last year at the Home Office. I have enjoyed this time very much, and while I feel I have been able to discharge my duties effectively while also giving proper attention to my constituency, this combination has been very demanding and has squeezed the time available for my family and my outside interests, including my music.

You will recognise that it has been particularly challenging being the only Lib Dem in the Home Office, which I see a newspaper the other day likened to being the only hippy at an Iron Maiden concert. Despite these challenges, I am pleased with what I have been able to achieve, not least to have been the first minister with responsibility for drugs to have put prejudice aside and published an evidence-based approach to this important issue, despite repeated Conservative efforts to block release.

I am also pleased, amongst other things, to have been able to create a cross-departmental commitment to tackling FGM, to have nursed into law a new more effective approach to anti-social behaviour, and to have launched a ground-breaking government document that promotes alternatives to animal experiments.

However, in stark contrast to the Department for Transport, I regret that in the Home Office, the goodwill to work collegiately to take forward rational evidence-based policy has been in somewhat short supply.

I have concluded, therefore, that for the time being at least, my time is better spent out of ministerial office.

You will of course continue to have my full support in the run-up to, and beyond, the next election which I anticipate is likely to produce another hung parliament. You have been, and are, an outstanding leader of the Lib Dems and I have been proud to have served in your team.

Best wishes,


Letter from Nick Clegg to Norman Baker

Dear Norman,

Thank you for the brilliant job you have done as a Minister over the past four and a half years, first at the Department of Transport and more recently at the Home Office.

In both posts you have proved yourself as one of the most effective ministers in government: always determined to deliver a more liberal agenda for Britain, by consensus where possible but by confronting vested interests whenever necessary.

However complex the issues have been, or challenging the coalition relations have proved to be, you have handled the political relationships within Government with great skill, always focusing on how to achieve liberal reform wherever you can.

I fully understand the reasons you want to take a break after four and a half years in demanding Ministerial posts – but I very much hope that if the Liberal Democrats are in government after the next election, you will once again make yourself available for Ministerial office.

On a personal level, it has been a real privilege to work alongside you over the past four and a half years.

With very best wishes,


A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minster said:

“Norman Baker has decided that now is the right time  to step down from Government as a Minister after four and a half years to concentrate on his constituency, his family and his great passion for music.

“The Deputy Prime Minister is extremely grateful for the skill and determination shown by Norman Baker in pursuing liberal reforms during his time as a Minister in the Department for Transport and Home Office.”


Norman Baker calls for a radical change in British drugs policy

The UK’s drugs laws need radical change, local MP and LibDem Home Office Minister Norman Baker has said today.

Norman’s call comes as the government publishes a major report on drugs policies around the world.

The report finds that tough criminal sentences for drug users makes no difference to the rates of drug use.

The Home Office’s “Drugs, International Comparators” study looked at different approaches to drugs policy and treatment in a number of countries including some from countries that have harsh criminal sanctions for users and some that have effectively decriminalised the possession of drugs.

Welcoming the report, Local MP and Lib Dem Home Office Minister Norman Baker said its findings show that the government needs to follow the evidence and be brave enough to change the drug laws in the UK.

The Lib Dems want to crack down on the criminal gangs that supply illegal drugs but advocate scrapping prison sentences for people whose only crime is possession of drugs. They advocate directing those who suffer from drug addiction towards the health treatment and education they need, moving the responsibility for the Government’s drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

Norman says: “The Lib Dems believe drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound tough. If you are anti-drugs you should be pro-reform.

“For too long successive governments have been unwilling to look at the evidence. This comprehensive report shows that other ways of tackling drug addiction and supply can save lives and cut crime.

“It’s time for a radical change in British drugs policy. The fact is we should spend more time and effort cracking down on the Mr Bigs’ and criminal gangs who traffic drugs than users and addicts who should be helped to recover, not put behind bars.”

Budding East Sussex businesses urged to profit from expert advice

Local small businesses, budding entrepreneurs and start-up firms looking for office space and ways to kick-start or grow their business are being encouraged to go along to a free event this week.

Local specialists Let’s Do Business and experts from Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be running talks and workshops at Medwyn House, Mountfield Road, Lewes between 12 – 2pm on Friday, 26 September.    The Disabled Entrepreneurs’ Network will also be holding a focused talk for disabled entrepreneurs.

The free advice sessions  will give top tips for starting and building up a business, including details on the support available, ways to access finance and how to get free or low cost office space and meeting rooms via the Government scheme ‘Space for Growth’

Head of business services, Ian Smallwood of Hastings-based Let’s do Business said: “This event offers both start up and established businesses a great opportunity to find out about what advice, support and finance is available in the Lewes area.”

David Hughes of the Jobcentre Plus’ business support team for Sussex said: “We welcome the Government ‘Space for Growth’ event here at Lewes and hope that it will encourage more people to consider self-employment as a route into work.”

Councillor Simmons, cabinet member for economic development at East Sussex Council said: “I am delighted that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills is coming to East Sussex to support our local businesses and economic development in the county. This will bring together many partners to support our business community and I am sure many organisations will be interested in attending”.

Norman Baker, MP for Lewes Constituency said: “I am pleased to welcome the Department of Business Innovation and Skill and the “Space for Growth” event in Lewes. This is a great opportunity for people thinking of starting up businesses or for established businesses seeking to develop, to discover advice, support and finance opportunities in and around Lewes.”

There will be range of advice stalls run by experts from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, Brighton University, Locate East Sussex, Brighton and Hove Council, Local Enterprise and Apprenticeship Platform and Mentors Me.

There’s still a few places left.  To reserve your free place sign up via http://tinyurl.com/kgrcsjg or call 0207 215 5167 for more information.