Clegg backs 'security bonds' as he sets out immigration stance

 

Deputy PM Nick Clegg: "The bonds would need to be well targeted - so that they don't unfairly discriminate"

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Nick Clegg has made his biggest intervention to date in the debate on immigration, calling for cash deposits of more than £1,000 for some migrants.

The deposit would be paid by visa applicants from "high risk" countries and repaid when they leave the UK.

The deputy prime minister said migrants made a huge contribution but there must be "zero tolerance" of abuses.

"Mainstream" parties had to "wrestle the issue from populists and extremists," he added.

It came as Mr Clegg's Liberal Democrat colleague, Vince Cable, disowned a target of reducing net migration to below 100,000 by 2015, saying it was a Conservative policy, not a coalition one.

He also said the immigration visa system should be "easy" and "flexible".

'Discriminatory'

Mr Clegg insisted the business secretary was fully behind the security bond idea and that they also agreed on the issue of the migration cap, despite Mr Cable's stronger criticism of Tory coalition colleagues.

Analysis

The Lib Dems wanted to show they too could be tough.

So they threw out a much-attacked party policy - giving illegal immigrants citizenship.

They backed a robust-sounding government plan - deposits for migrants.

It was bad luck then that Vince Cable comments about the "enormous damage" that could be caused by low net migration emerged the night before.

We're reassured that Vince agrees with Nick.

But that is not the point.

The worry for the Lib Dems is that when immigration is mentioned the party is only ever heard worrying that rules might be too strict.

Nick Clegg's speech was meant to change that.

Vince Cable's words have muddied his message.

The security bond idea - designed to tackle the problem of people coming to the UK for holidays or as students and remaining in the country illegally - was floated several times by the previous Labour government but never implemented and was understood to be under development by the Home Office.

It has been criticised in the past as "half-baked" and "clearly discriminatory" by Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes but Mr Clegg urged critics to reconsider it, saying it could be a "useful, additional tool".

"If we get this right, there is no reason why this cannot make the system work more efficiently," he said.

Labour had a "lamentable record" on immigration, he added, and "just because they could not get it right does not mean we cannot do it better".

'Retaliation'

But former Labour minister Keith Vaz, now chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the idea was "unworkable, impractical and also discriminatory" and said it had gone down badly when he raised it in India in the late 1990s.

"This idea is likely to end in tears...we have tried it before" he told the BBC's Daily Politics.

The bond, he added, would not deter some people from trying to stay on after their visas ended, or address the cost of having to remove them, while it would have repercussions for UK relations with other countries.

"We have to choose the countries we want to target," he told the BBC's Daily Politics. "They are going to be very angry. They are likely to retaliate against Britain."

Keith Vaz: We must avoid 'immigration arms race'

Mr Vaz urged all the party leaders to avoid a rhetorical "arms race" on immigration.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has reshaped his party's policy in recent months and David Cameron will set out what the government has done to tighten controls on Monday.

In his speech, Mr Clegg pledged to "lay the foundations for an immigration system that embodies this nation's instincts and its values" of tolerance and openness but one that also commanded public support.

'No contradiction'

The deputy prime minister also revealed plans to increase cash penalties for "unscrupulous" employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants because they are cheaper. The maximum fine is £10,000 per illegal worker and Mr Clegg called for a doubling of penalties.

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant said politicians should "tackle abuse and not just talk about it", saying his party's proposals for ending student visa loopholes and penalising firms who hire illegal workers were "practical and workable".

Labour's Immigration Minister Chris Bryant: Government "focussing on the wrong end of problem"

Mr Clegg's intervention came as Vince Cable lashed out at Home Secretary Theresa May's target of cutting net migration to below 100,000 by 2015 saying it was a Tory and not a Lib Dem policy and could have disastrous consequences for the economy.

He also suggested, in an interview with The House magazine, that Tory ministers were being disingenuous to quote progress towards the target as an example of the government getting to grips with immigration.

"We have obviously no control over the European Union and that is actually where much of the movement comes. And a lot of the public anxiety which is experienced in by-elections and elsewhere has actually been about people from Eastern Europe.

"Now, you can argue whether that's a good thing or a bad thing but it's got nothing to do with the non-EU, which is the area which is controlled by government.

"The reducing to under 100,000 is not government policy and it would be unattainable without, if it was attainable enormous damage would be done, notably through overseas students, which is one of the biggest components, actually."

Mr Cable denied putting out a contradictory message to Mr Clegg, who had hailed the coalition's success in cutting net migration "by a third" in his speech.

"Nick and I talk often and we are on the same page. I'm simply emphasising that Britain has got be open for business or we can't succeed as an economy," the business secretary told BBC News.

 

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  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 90.

    8. writingSTILLonthewall -Naff 80s student politics at its worst, you want to know who suffered most from Labours open door immigration system? White working class communities (its core voter base) who saw their towns and city's filled with people who put pressure on services which were already creaking. Still calling people racists just shows how puerile your trendy argument is.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 89.

    So after years of howling down anyone who dared to mention immigration as a racist all of a sudden our politicians are all out to show us how tough they are. The only problem is our courts are such suckers for a sob story and the human rights act provides pretty much anyone who gets here with a reason to stay I can't see how they are going to get a grip.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 86.

    i know there has to be some control on immigration but i cant help feeling this country is getting more and more right wing in its policies re its indiginous population as well as well as 'foreigners',unless of course they have lots and lots of money. also what about a HYS on osbournes lies about the deficit?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    Wasn't it John Major's government who failed to sign up to the restriction of movement within the EU?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 84.

    Another great idea, I think not,

    This is just a money making scheme.

    New Slogan: "Come live in the UK price of entry only £1000.00"

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 83.

    At least he's bringing it to the table, but sadly with a token gesture. If you've ever taken the DLR from Bank to Canary Wharf, on the right hand side all the council flats are occupied by 1st generation Somalis and that is one big area. Now that should tell you what the reality of immigration is like. Their cost far exceeds their 'contribution', please argue as to why that is positive for us?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 82.

    Yes, so what if other countries did the same and at much much higher more sensible cost to people here going out there. Excellent! They should, and deserve to be charged for migrating, all migration is wrong, not only inward. Time limited, settling proscribing, work permits only should be used for work requirements. They could be charged for too, vastly more than silly little Clegg's amount too.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 81.

    this is a bit rich coming from someone who has spent a lot of time and energy banging on about economic migrants rights and how racist it is to criticise unmanged migration into the country.
    To little, to late Nick and I don`t trust you as far as I can throw you

  • rate this
    -74

    Comment number 80.

    Rather than make immigrants give a £1K deposit, we should be giving them £1K (or perhaps £10K) to get themselves and their family settled.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 79.

    Here's the reality in my working world:-

    Companies manipulate data to allow them to import cheap (non EU) labour. The "skilled" labour comes, works for three years, then leaves, for a better paid job, applies for permanent leave to stay followed by citizenship. The company then starts the loop again!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 78.

    The assumption that everyone coming from e.g. Russia is an overstayer unless proven otherwise is offending to say the lest. All this will do is discourage potential tourists from visiting UK.

    For those who are determined to get into the UK and stay, £1000 won't be a deterrence - It costs many times more to be smuggled in.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 77.

    66. JohnM
    We have no control over our borders from immigrants within the EU?

    Why? Who allowed this, and when did it happen?"

    It happened as part of joining the EU. Free migration within the EU is a key part of the EU 'ethos'

    "How do we regain control?"

    Leave the EU.

  • rate this
    +117

    Comment number 76.

    For 15 years, we were told, each time immigration was raised that we were being " non PC" and the debate was quashed.

    Now is FAR too late to bolt the stable door as it was taken off its hinges years ago.

    We need to look at France and the way they deal with migrants/housing/benefits and do what they do.

    Time to end free translations, time to end free NHS for all visitors.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 75.

    Just make it simple!

    Require that they have a return flight (which doesn't expire). Should they fail any of VISA terms, put them back on the flight and wave goodbye.

    I'm sick of bureaucrats who can't even run a bath.

  • rate this
    +165

    Comment number 74.

    The requirements should be, A monetary deposit, proof of skills, proof of good health, no access to welfare for 5 years, no automatic admittance for family.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    Non EU migrants have no access to benefits. It's clearly stated on their visas. If they claim any benefits, their permits will be revoked and they will be deported. EU migrants have access to benefits and everything else. Reduce non EU migration and EU migration will increase. What we need to do is make sure the right people are here who want to contribute positively to society.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 72.

    Obviously Nick hasn't been keeping up with events. We need immigration below 100,000. And that means ALL immigration, not just the legals. It's about time some of these politicians grew a backbone and debated it properly. However, just like with drugs, they live in a fantasy land of 20 years ago and play catch up with public opinion.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 71.

    make the security bond a high amount that people can't afford to lose or security tag immigrants so they can be found and not disappear into the crowd

 

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