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".


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.


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".


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

    Comment number 270.

    About time, immigrants need to have skills and have a sound monetary base before they should be allowed to enter this country. No allowances either until they have worked here and paid contributions to the State like we do! This Country has to stop being a soft touch handing out our money when these people have done nothing for the economy. Bring a skill, work, pay tax then you are welcome!

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    209. Dr Bob Matthews

    Will we impose the same restrictions on the wealthy Americans who come over here to use the NHS? Thought not!


    Yes, we should call it the INHS (International NHS)!

    It is 'free' at the point of delivery for all & sundry, except the poor buggers who actually go to work and pay income tax, for whom it costs about 1000% more than they will ever get out of it!

  • Comment number 268.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    We should also apply this to all Politicos..and at the first sign that the lying g SOBs are up to their usual fiddling and being what they would call being economical with the truth..we take their cash ....and stick them in the nick..does anyone else think that this could be a runner. ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    I was an immigration officer for 31 years. I saw people go to extreme lengths to get into the United Kingdom.They will pay a trafficker upwards of £5000 to be smuggled here. When caught they never leave without a struggle.It is naive in the extreme to think that they will be deterred by the thought of losing a mere £1000. More enforcement officers,yes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    If Clegg worked for Border Force/UKBA or just researched freely available stats he would know that at the top of the list for immigration abuse is Brazil,which Cameron has already decided not to impose further visa restrictions(aftermath of Mendes shooting),and 2nd on the list for abuse is the USA.Deposits for American visitors??Pepetuating the myth that immigration abusers are all Asian/African.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    It has to make you wonder why the Government is coming out with all these retarded ideas. They want UKIP et al to win in 2015 coz the whole lot is rotten and they don't want to be any where near it.
    We need new workers as any worker born here, ethnic background irrelevant, has left for Oz or sim. These new 'mugs' are the ones who will fuel and keep a float your house prices. Welcome to the dream.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    The numbers of immigrants is one thing. But it is how they are treated once they arrive that has the lasting impact for better or worse. I can drive across England and could believe I have passed through 3 or 4 different countries by ethnicity. There remain parts of England that remain untouched by immigration. That part of immigration policy has not been well thought through.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    For those of us that saw this coming 10 years ago and that have been abused and called a rascist, xenophobic (both untrue !) makes me sick to my stomach. Now its way too late ! UKIP all the way for me (in fact Im now proudly a paid up member )

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    Oh dear. You don't get out much do you? A simple google search will correct you!
    And yet they still have a very strict entry system into their nations. So they either don't listen to the chants of racism or don't care. So why do we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    245 "Kindly practice what you preach, don't bother visiting France, Spain, Italy or Germany looking for a job without first learning the language" - Again, very embarrassing Dr Bob, deliberately ignoring the point. You wouldn't get a job in those countries without speaking the lanaguage, more importantly you wouldn't get benefits without job, even an EU-citizen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    227. writingSTILLonthewall
    ...............................Face facts - only the ignorant and racists actually get worked up about immigration.

    Sorry, Old Chap, but I have to disagree. I suggest that there are a great many caring, reasonable, thoughtful people in the UK who have genuine concerns over the damaging effect of excessive immigration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    hurry up and get on with controlling immigration, talk talk talk

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    "only the ignorant and racists actually get worked up about immigration". I'll tell that to my Indian Doctor and my Chinese friends, I'm sure they will be very chuffed to be called rascist or ignorant. In truth, its only the ignorant who do not understand why people get worked up over immigration, as they don't have the intelligence to emphasise or discuss logically.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Nick Clegg? what a complete and utter ____!!

  • Comment number 255.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    1 Hour ago

    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'"

    And yet Germany, for instance, managed to keep out immigrants from new EU member-states. We could have too, but T. Bliar wouldn't - another "legacy".

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    The amount of immigrants from EU countries dwarf that from other countries(and we don't have any idea of exact numbers as there is no border control - passports are not even checked all the time). We need to be able to control EU migration and that can only be done by leaving the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    We're probably looking at the lower end of the migrant scale here aren't we? The sort of people who end up making airline food and picking potatoes.

    Problem is as many have said £1000 isn't enough deterrent & more is probably beyond their means so we prevent them applying. Legally at least.......

    Nice idea..... until you think it through. Time to try again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    245 Wrong thats the Yanks fact.


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