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 370.

    336. writingSTILLonthewall - What is wrong with you! Are you just here for a wind up? You are confusing immigration with asylum. Asylum does not need 'a use to the Country' as it is usually escape from genuine persecution. But economic immigration, that is people with no obvious skills, no job offer and no satisfactory explanation for the request should be refused. What is wrong with that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.



    Very easy to pick up on other posters' punctuation, grammar and spelling, but you really do make yourself look a complete idiot when you make a mistake of your own!

    And you're anti-Essex?

    You really are a clown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    People should realise that immigrants do not all come from the EU. I am an immigrant. I have a permanent job. I pay tax. I don't claim any kind of benefit. How many immigrants (collectively) claim benefits, as opposed to native Britons? 'Immigrant-bashing' in the media fuels racism and discrimination because it gives a one-sided, biassed, sensationalist view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    #335: "Just look at the US's southern border through which illegal aliens ... sneak in freely because Obama Administration doesn't want to lose critically important Latino vote."

    More relevant, maybe, is the "H-1B Industry" through which nominally US-based companies can bring in inexperienced, under-qualified people, mainly from India, to unfairly compete in the IT jobs market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    What does it tell us about our betters' confidence in the ordinary Briton that the deputy prime minister believes taking in less than 100,000 immigrants a year would be 'economic disaster'?
    How about properly taxing the non-domiciled and using the money to invest in British education at all levels, rather than the usual handout to Oxbridge? Maybe that way we'd need less economic refugees.

  • Comment number 365.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    SItting here watching the news with people freezing in piles of snow and transport creaking to a standstill, maybe ensuring these images get reported in the warmer developing nations which are deemed as high risk might put some more of them off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    "Australia being a fine example, have very strict immigration policies. "

    With the exception for immigrants from Communist China which are flooding that country as we speak. [been there, seen that]

    To be fair: Islamist terrorists in UK are not illegal immigrants: they are sons of the Commonwealth members granted UK citizenship.

    Now paying back the country which took their parents in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    336 "Half of you can't spell and the other half are damned ignorant. END IGNORATION NOW" - ignorance? "Sad fact is you're pathetic weak middle aged white men with shrivelled manhoods" - Oh dear me, I fear I may have been taken in by an expert troll.

    Good to see everyone is on the same page, sensible, controlled immigration, apart from the odd lunatic far left/far right comment. Bye all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    One of my big surprises when I immigrated here 21 years ago was that while I got a limited work permit, my wife automatically received an unlimited work permit, based on the work permit granted to me. I tried to start paying NI immediately, but inland revenue insisted I had to wait a year and refunded all NI I had paid in the first year. So it is more than just immigration that needs reviewing.

  • Comment number 360.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.


    Oh dear what a bunch of fools.....half of you can't spell and the other half are damned ignorant.

    Sad fact is you're pathetic weak middle aged white men with shrivelled manhoods.


    Oh dear, resorting to insults invariably means you've lost the argument.
    Game, set and match.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    @ 337.The Bloke:

    How is the left racist? In detail and in your own words please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    Most immigrants are better qualified than UK residents (38% have degrees in comparison with 18% UK born).

    What we really need is lower house prices to drive other spending. Immigration is not a problem unless you simply don't like people - then it's your problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    No one has said is immigration is not beneficial, however uncontrolled immigration and the numbers have had a clearly detrimental affect on our society. What is deeply ironic is immigration truly benefits the big corporates with an endless supply of cheap/slave labour. Labour should be against it and the Tories should love it. Exploitation is still going on by the elite

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    I think what we should really be focusing on is EMMIGRATION, the fed up grey brigade taking their wealth OUT of the country, while our govts let in migrants who bring NOTHING into the country. I know where Im going when I retire, and I wont be staying here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    74.Dave Comment number 74 is an Editors' Pick

    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.

    Just like when one of my daughters emigrated to Australia.

    The simple ideas are always the best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    Can you believe what these politicians say ! the country is almost on its knees we are paying for folk who just walk in the open door our nhs is overloaded with folk who do not nor ever have paid in we have useless mps who do not have a clue or care what the indigenous population ie the voters think its all to little to late ,SHUT THE DOOR and send home illegals we are not responsible for evry bod

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    Uk out of the eu!
    A simple answer to a major problem.

    Put blair,brown balls etc etc on trial for uncontrolled immigration(to rub the rights nose in it!)
    writingSTILLonthewall..just go away...PLEASE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    7 Minutes ago

    To suggest that immigrants are detrimental to this society is not a reasoned of factual conclusion - it's based in prejudice.

    THAT is why it's racist.

    Let me give you a chance to prove you understand what you are talking about. Answer one simple question.

    Which race is being abused?


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