18/10/2013 10:48 BST | Updated 18/10/2013 10:52 BST

Nick Clegg Slaps Down Tory Minister Over 'Go Home' Immigration Vans

File photo dated 18/09/13 of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who has said the use of mass surveillance programmes by Britain's intelligence agencies is a totally legitimate area for debate.

Nick Clegg has slapped down Conservative Mark Harper, after the immigration minister suggested the Home Office's controversial 'go home' anti-illegal immigration vans could be rolled out nationwide.

On Thursday evening Harper told the BBC's Question Time programme that there was nothing wrong with the vans that had been first piloted in London.

"I don’t see any problem with saying to people who have no right to be in the United Kingdom they can’t be here anymore," he said. "If it’s successful we’ll look at rolling it out, if it’s not successful, we won’t."

Clegg and other senior Liberal Democrats have previously condemned the van's message, which read: "Go home or face arrest". The scheme caused an outcry and was dubbed the "racist van" for its harsh message.

A spokesperson for the deputy prime minister told The Huffington Post UK on Friday: "The Liberal Democrats have always been clear that we completely disagree with these poster vans. This is a Coalition Government and for that reason, this campaign will not be rolled out nationally."

The internal coalition conflict comes as Jeremy Browne, the former Home Office minister unexpectedly removed from his post by Clegg in the recent reshuffle, defended not preventing the pilot scheme.

"The first thing I knew about the poster van is when I was in the lounge of Hong Kong airport and logged on to the computer to catch up with the news eight time zones away," he told The Times. "It seems unduly critical to be blamed for not stopping something I didn’t know about."