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 550.

    "Auf Wiedersehen Pet
    You make the point well. Switzerland has recently lost control of its borders (EU diktat)"

    Switzerland isn't in the EU. It voluntarily joined the Schengen system (as did Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein) and it's citizens are perfectly able to reject any "EU diktat" they don't wish to be part of. Nonetheless it has a much higher immigrant workforce than the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    While all this 'hard talk' is going on, GPs in the NHS have been intructed to treat ANY person, irrespective of nationality, legality, or entitlement.
    And the NHS is cash-strapped.

    Total hypocricy. Talk tough, act soft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    i wonder if the spanish moan about british pensioners sitting on their beaches spending british tax payers benefits ? no because they are spending . its time we only paid benefits to people actually living in britain not index linked pensioners living abroad

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    525. nutrok - And round here. The difference being that the majority of immigrants are wiling to work for the going wage, the lazy and shiftless so-called indigenous residents out of work are not. Such as the University Graduate who thought it beneath her to stack shelves. We have built a Society of the have nots wanting what the haves have got but without the willingness to work for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    If anyone who was considering a move to the UK to work has the opportunity to view this particular HYS most of the barely coherent Highest rated picks should put them off!

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    Why no more immigration?
    1 country is full by any rational ecological measure
    2 Contrary to the liberal/left view there is an endemic culture which has developed here over centuries. It should be allowed to change over further centuries not in a generation by newcomers who refuse to integrate and insist upon bringing their often incompatible values and practices with them, and force them in us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    I read somewhere that some of the worst offenders for over-staying their visas are Australians. Anyone know the figures?

    In any case, this is all about promises Cameron made before the election that he was never going to able to keep and now they're stirring things up in a effort to be seen to be doing something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    @534 Chiller
    Unlike the 4.7 million Brits abroad who are there to do an honest day's work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    #502 ukblahblahblacksheep

    Mate, which part of merit based job offering do you not get? This is a company present in 150 countries and only hire based on merit and nothing else which is why the process they follow and they sponsored my visa. The others prob also found jobs as only Russell Group uni applications were entertained. Apologies for graduating from Imperial and expecting success :/

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    Ha Ha, Chris Bryant is as much use as Liam Byrne. Go away you horrible silly man, take Gleggy with you too. This nation is in debt because of rampant uncontrolled immigration caused from 1997.
    Vaz was born in Aiden, how did he claw his way up the ladder with his fake posh accent I ask? They make me sick spouting rubbish. Resign!

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    Many migrants particularly from the EU are fairly young. They come & are happy to do jobs that yes lot of brits don't want to do (I know, worked with migrants on the farms for 6yrs almost the only brit) but they also take a lot of the more basic jobs that many of our young would normally end up doing after they leave school as their first jobs. Is it any wonder youth unemployment is so high?

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    Someone who has paid traffickers £10,000 or £15,000 to scam teir way into the UK is not going to be disuaded by the need to put up a £1,000 bond, which will probably be forged and worthless anyway.
    £10,000+ and provably legitimate, else it's a waste of time and effort.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    #515: "All you have to do is look at america a failing power to see if immigration works."

    You obviously know nothing about US society, in which everyone is an "immigrant" of some kind. Nor, indeed, is the USA a "failing power" - unlike most European countries, the US draws strength from the diversity of its population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    Switzerland has recently lost control of its borders (EU diktat) unlike China and Oz. Its economy is now under threat from the EU too. Join us or else.
    Boo Hoo - the Swiss have undermined economies all over the world by sheltering tax cheating money laundering gangsters and fraudsters.... as well as non Hedgie criminals - about time they got a taste of their own medicine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Immigration should only feature as part of a well worked out education, training & skills strategy and, sector by sector, only be used as a fall-back short term measure when there is no means of finding the skills in country & while we train up & develop the resident population. We should not talk about immigration per se- only as one small tool in our education, skils & training strategy! End of!

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    I'm guessing that history wasn't your strongest subject at school?

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    @530 Dirk

    Don't think it is about immigration per se more about people coming here with the sole intention of not working and sponging off the state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    do any politicians think about their actions or statements anymore only they seem to say and do whatever comes into their heads just lately and only think about if it will work after . engage brain before engaging mouth please

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    Clegg doing something about immagration? This idiot couldn't organise a pi** up in a brewery if he had an instruction manual. And a £1000 bond? who is he kidding? Coming from a low risk country myself I have been made to provide security bonds of over £10,000, a security bond of £1000 shows nothing but his level of contempt he has for this country and it's native residents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    How does it make you racist if you question immigration? There is nowhere to live and nowhere to work. WE ARE FULL!!!.Lets get real lefties


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