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 290.

    Work permits would be the best idea, though tories, new labour, sdp and ukip would have a problem with that as cheap labour is what they wish to maintain. As for Ross Hawkins political insight, I believe old sdp would view his contibution soundly. As for Cable and the orange book crowd they are avid believers in the concept of cheap labour as it benefits the market.

  • Comment number 289.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Lets be honest here they simply have no idea what to do .....its a shame really watching our country go to the dogs

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    181 "Speak for yourself mate. Human Rights legislation is important and a hell of a useful protection against bad legislation from our own government" - not really, judicial review is perfectly capable of doing this and isn't abused to allow utterly ridiculous decisions in areas such as extradition. It also doesn't arguable allow judges to make law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    All a bit slow on dealing with the problem and mess left by the last incompetent bunch.
    This should have been introduced years ago.
    We need MORE tough measure to stop the abuse of our once proud immigration system.
    Now it is not fit for purpose.
    The Border Agency needs privatising and incentiving.
    Low point scoring people should not be entering our country. Too may of them begging on the streets

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    It's too little, too late Nick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Well done Mr. Clegg!
    Now I have heard it all. You have surely sealed your fate at the next election!
    Oh dear me, what will this man think of next? Pitiful really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Not just the UK but other so-called better off EU Countries are getting full. Asylum should never be refused if on genuine humanitarian grounds but immigration needs a radical hard nosed root and branch overhaul. How about adopting a strict points system along the Australian model. Also those that use the ECHR should have their reasons heavily tested and the ECHR told not to be so frivolous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    After Wednesday's attack on the most vulnerable in society through the budget, today tories decide to attack immigrants.

    And they send out the lib-dems to do their dirty work. The tories really are disgraceful.

    The fact is we need immigrants to keep the country running. Without them public services like the NHS would grind to a halt.

  • Comment number 281.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    When you're on the back foot politically... use the immigration card. Guaranteed to divide and rule! Let's look at the facts, immigrants aren't stealing billions of pounds of our wealth, that is done by wealthy white British people. Let's look at the big problems before we start tweaking at the edges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    So just a £1000 to get in Clegg trying to undercut the E.European gangs then?
    Why dont we just sell the visas for £50k and reduce the deficit (slowly)

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Bond can only control non-European nations, what about the EU ? it's obvious that the number of EU in the UK is much compared to Non-EU. The non-EU are the one working here and making the nation proud. In health see Asians, Africans less EU. so before concluding on the bond, we need to look at the pros and cons of it before the decision can be made. what is the way out for illegal ppl.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    Good to see this story merited not one but two labour spokesmen ,each given their own pretty sidebar .

    Good to see such impartial analysis from the ministry of truth .

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.


    ...the uk is full of racists.


    Actually, The UK is the most liberal, tolerant and ethnically diverse country on the planet.
    Why do you think so many want to come here?
    I suggest you do some travelling before making such ill informed comments.
    Or even better, try to emigrating to another country and see how you get of luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Yeh that's right, while our poorest & lowest paid suffer and are forced to go & collect food parcels, we hand out benefits & social housing to immigrants such as Saeed Khaliif who's rent is approx £2000 per week in London.

    Is it any wonder the people of this country are hacked off with lying corrupt self serving politicians & that includes all political parties!

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    Why doesn't Clegg end the abuse by the bankers of tax payers money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    "Face facts - only the ignorant and racists actually get worked up about immigration"

    Are you serious?

    I am neither ignorant nor a racist. But the FACT is that immigration, legal or otherwise, is out of control. We need immediate measures to address the genuine risks to our nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    Clegg & Co. Start by standing up to the EU and telling them that the UK want's to have it's own immigration powers wrestled back. That's a good place to start. Until them we are doomed to an endless tide of mass immigration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    When I went to India years ago I had to produce my return air ticket and prove I had a certain amount of money per day for the duration of my trip. I still went - and left when I was supposed to. I think its a good idea.


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