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 390.

    276.Polly On The Shore
    Actually, The UK is the most liberal, tolerant and ethnically diverse country on the planet.
    No it isn't. Germany, The Netherlands, the US, Denmark, Brazil etc etc etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    I used to think ideas like this were the territory of the loony BNP until I did an evening course in a central London college and overheard people talking, even boasting, about how they gamed the system.

    It was an eye-opener and made me reluctantly start looking at immigration & short-term visas with a new perspective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    It shows that libdems don't want to be with the Tories but Clegg doesn't want to give up being deputy leader and is prepared to sacrifice everything to keep his position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    A great idea in principle but the amount should be a lot more and non-refunable.
    Any criminal conviction = instant deportation
    Any children born here means another charge to cover schooling costs etc
    Also a no welfare to be given for say first 5 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    Why won't asylum seekers go to somewhere like Slovenia or Estonia instead? The standard of living in Eastern Europe is pretty good, even by our standards, so why do these people expect to be given a life in the top-end countries? They should know that beggars can't be choosers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    worth remembering too that Mr Cameron does not define someone from within the EU as a migrant until they have been here for over 4 years. When the Conservative Party talk about reducing immigration they don't include the EU, and don't say how we would accept brits who have moved abroad if they had to come back

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    I never heard any Brits grumble when we went and plundered the rest of the world during colonization!

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    320. AKS
    How stupid can you be ?
    Illegal traffickers charge the illegal immigrants way more than this to get them into the country for cheap labour ..

    Seriously, did you even think about what you wrote before you started typing?

    The kind of people this is aimed at enter the country legally.

    If we let illegals in for a grand we'd end the people trafficking trade into the UK altogether...

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    I see Vince is up again putting his point of view , we do not want multicultural it does not work , he would have us flooded with immigrants oh right we already are they all say they have cut immigration ?? . please retire mr Cable .
    and can we please have a referendum on the eu now not in x number of years time .

  • Comment number 381.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    £1k to come to the uk? Can we set up a scheme so i can leave it for that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.


    How will YOU identify those who need to be 'sent back'?

    I don't think anybody who is legally in the country needs sending back.

    I believe in immigration , I am an immigrant.

    But I qualified as an immigrant and think others should too.

    Look back at my post 193 you'll find I think Cleggs proposal is naive at best!

    I think you have just got your knickers in a twist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    Went to the job centre last week looking for work. I was the only white guy there.After waiting in amongst a group of people to be seen for half an hour I asked what was causing the delay? I was told they were waiting for Interpreters on the internet as no one could speak or read English.
    Ah! Life in the UK 2013.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    The Bloke

    I wonder when the racist, environment-hating fools on the left who support immigration.

    Racist and immigration supporting in the same sentence. sheer stupidity of the left.

    I think the Rabids need to think before they print.

    The left are either racist or they support immigration which means they are not racist.

    Which is it?

    Who should be wearing the dunces cap

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    As always with Mr Clegg , too little to late. How on earth does Mr Clegg think this half baked scheme is going to work, it is set up to fail. As a sound bite it is great, as a practical, workable solution to the immigration issues it is a chocolate tea pot. The UK is full, pull up the draw bridge for five years and let those here get on with it and those not here go elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    Are all politicians so out of touch to believe that the 'princely' sum of £1000 is still a lot of money? Well Nick, it was once but not anymore! £1000 would be seen as a cheap bargain to quite a lot wanting to come & raid the UK from far away places.
    What it should be is jail, deportation & never allowed to return again for anyone over staying their welcome, now that would be a deterrent!

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Just because your 'leaders' told you to be careful about what you say - doesn't mean what you mean isn't racist.

    You cannot hide your inadequacies behind immigrants...//

    well you're certainly having a go.

  • Comment number 373.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    @ 330. Paul M
    "You are NOT the kind of person we want kept out!"

    Proves my point. You're implying I'm an immigrant and only thing I mentioned about myself was that I'm half white. So let me ask you, when you say "kept out", kept out to where exactly? Where am I from? Last I checked, I was born/bred in Britain, so kept out of Britain would mean I have to stay where I'm from which is Britain!

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    Distraction distraction. It's not just about the few illegals that come here. People are not happy with the high numbers of LEGAL immigrants that arrived from EU countries and contributed to the labour SURPLUS we have. Of course, their answer is MORE immigrants. Mumbo jumbo economics.

    3 million immigrants and 3 million unemployed mainly British.

    Voting main parties will not change anything


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