My position was misrepresented

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I agree with Adrienne Campbell (letters last week) about the climate dangers posed by fossil fuels but she misrepresents my position in a quite unfair way.

Yes, Canadian tar sands present a challenge to the climate and I want to discourage those, but I also want to deal with the heavy crudes from countries like Venezuela and Angola. It helps the climate not one iota to ignore those, as some environmentalists inexplicably want to do. I will continue to use the leverage I have got to try to get the best environmental outcome from the discussions taking place within the government and within the EU on these matters.

While writing, can I say how sorry I was to see Bill Ball’s letter the previous week about the NHS. He seems comfortable in some sort of 1980s mindset where there are only two sorts of politicians: big bad Tories and principled socialists. The reality of the Health Bill currently in the Lords is rather different. Firstly, it is not true that the Bill introduces competition into the NHS. This was introduced by the last unsocialist Labour government when it created the purchaser / provider split. It was also the Labour government that gave £250m of scarce NHS money to private companies to undertake operations that were never even carried out. Secondly, the Lib Dems have secured many significant changes to the Bill to protect the NHS which both Bill Ball and I highly value and want to protect. Further changes are being won by Shirley Williams and other Lib Dem colleagues in the Lords.

In other words both the government, being a coalition, and the Labour opposition with its embrace of the private sector in the NHS and elsewhere, present a rather more nuanced picture than the black and white one Bill suggests. Norman Baker MP