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 1030.

    yes its all very good saying stop then now and doing adding all these action but what are this evil government doing about all the illegal ones totally Zilch why because it cost too much!! the gate is open the horse has bolted!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1029.

    This is the case about corrupt governments (all of them) as expressed already. The point is that we have so little options, we cling to to any light at the end of a very long tunnel, and upon hearing something sensible, give the impression of relief.
    Rise up, have a voice ye indiginous proletariats!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1028.

    Immigration is the same old target it has been for the past 1000 years (and longer!). Blame it all on the 'outside influence'.

    The fact is we aren't all in it together as 'Dave' would have us believe, the disadvantaged of this world always suffer no matter what.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1027.

    Yeah, because numpty is going to single-handedly stop the EU doing what it wants..or sorry, should I say Germany and it's stooges France and the NL's?....nar, I didn't did I....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1026.

    This is just hot air and just MP's pretending to do something about the issues.

    If they really wanted to sort the immigration issues then they could. Australia have a hard immigration policy but seems to work for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1025.

    Immigration results in the dilution of British culture which given our appalling attitude to the rest of the world may, or may not, be a good thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 1024.

    Complete nonsense from Nick Clegg. As always with him none of his ideas work or get passed close scrutiny. He an embarrassment as an MP and a complete disgrace to Sheffield in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1023.

    UK should target EU first, if it wants to control immigration. But, if it decides to target any fast growing Asian country, I am sure that would be self-inflicting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1022.

    979. Ghost Of Private Richard Arnold

    1. Don't know what 'different facts' you're on about

    2. I never mentioned denying anyone the right to bring up their child in their own culture. You've made that up.

    3. You used the phrase 'White British' when you claimed your son was the only one in his class. No good blaming me if you prefer 'English'. (You don't hate Northerners as well by any chance?)

  • rate this

    Comment number 1021.

    997. Greggers
    "...NI is flawed....
    It's worse than that. The NI that we are paying now is for the pensions and health care of previous generations. Our pensions and health care will be funded by our children and grandchildren. The UK debt is over £1 trillion for a reason. Welfare and NHS costs have been 'on tick' since they were introduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1020.

    What a clown this bloke is.

    £1000 is nothing especially for the criminals coming here.

    Should be more like prove you can live here and support yourself without any help. What does £1000 prove? Not even a months rent in London for a 1 bed flat

  • rate this

    Comment number 1019.

    We must be the only country in the world that doesnt have a failsafe. When I married my Antipodean husband I was asked to provide a bond of £2,000 a month and a sponsor. Whilst the sponsor was easy, the money was not. I came home. At the time I was upset at not being able to stay but it works both ways, if we had such a scheme it would stop many from marrying,over staying and working illegally

  • rate this

    Comment number 1018.

    There are too many people and not enough jobs ; more and more socially disastrous. Inept politicians lie. Work for everybody is not a viable option. In the UK and world wide.
    Moving the unemployable about the globe on political whims is no answer. Ordinary folk are told to keep their mouths shut.
    This will continue with the same sordid corrupt cliques and gangs running our poor old planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1017.

    That's a good idea. But the problem is almost half the so called natives will find themselves foreign here...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1016.

    £1000 isn't very much really, but perhaps that's the point...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1015.


    There seem to be a lot of people shouting 'racist'. That is an easy way out out of actually thinking about the proposal put forward.
    I totally agree with you. And constantly invoking the racist argument for ideas and beliefs that are so obviously not racist dilutes the strength of anti-racist legislation that exists to protect potential victims of real racist attacks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1014.

    From many of the comments on here it would seem that many of the immigrants are racist.

    I have lived in two other countries but never received a penny in "benefit" payment.
    I never expected to. - but many here see it as a "right" - it is NOT; and someone else is paying for it..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1013.

    997. Greggers
    The clue is in the name. NI = National *Insurance*. You don't get the money you paid insuring your car back if your car is not damaged or stolen.

    Come on, don't be so naive. Insurance is a sweet sounding alternative word for Tax. NI is flawed. Does NI vary according to age or fitness?? Does it reduce if you haven't visited the hospital for the last N years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    Who wants to be a minority in their own country? Its not about racism, its about maintaining our identity. The people of this country did not ask for mass immigration, it is forced upon us. I would also remind people that our country has gotten into this financial mess whilst being a member of the EU. The EU was sold to us as the Common Market, based on a lie, it was always to be a union!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    Don't waste your time arguing. The government has a plan, it will follow it through REGARDLESS. Anything else is just empty internet talk.


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