Paywall UK: Nick Clegg announces tough new regime on visas
Visitors from 'high risk' nations to be asked for deposits of £1,000 or more
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 22 March 2013
Foreigners visiting Britain from certain countries will have to put up “security bonds” costing thousands of pounds to deter them from overstaying their visas, under new proposals.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, today announced plans to bring in the Australian-style deposits for visitors from “high risk” countries, to be repaid when they leave the UK.
Although a list of such nations has not yet been drawn up by the UK Border Agency (UKBA), it is expected to include Pakistan, other countries in the Indian sub-continent and some in the Middle East. The move could run into controversy if the list does not include “white Commonwealth” nations.
Mr Clegg, who chairs the Cabinet’s Home Affairs Committee, has asked the Home Office to run a trial “security bonds” scheme by the end of this year. The bonds would cost at least £1,000, rising to as much as several thousand pounds for visitors from the countries deemed to pose the highest risk.
In a speech toughening the Liberal Democrats’ stance on immigration, Mr Clegg said that “visa overstayers” are the major part of UKBA’s enforcement work.
Describing the bonds as a “powerful new tool” he said: “The challenge isn’t just stopping people coming into Britain illegally, it’s about dealing with individuals who come over legitimately but then become illegal once they’re already here.”
Mr Clegg added: “The bonds would need to be well-targeted – so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against particular groups. The amounts would need to be proportionate – we mustn’t penalise legitimate visa applicants who will struggle to get hold of the money.”
The Liberal Democrat leader accepted that visiting Britain to celebrate a family birth, a relative’s graduation, or a wedding, should not become entirely dependent on the ability to pay a bond.
“I would want a system that is welcomed by legitimate visitors. Rather than place a great burden on them – done right this would speed up the application process, giving UKBA greater confidence about people’s intentions, allowing them to make better, faster decisions,” he said.
Mr Clegg has also asked Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to double the maximum fine for unscrupulous employers who hire illegal immigrants as cheap labour. He wants it to rise to £20,000 per illegal worker.
The Liberal Democrats have been seen by some voters as “too soft” on immigration, including some of their natural supporters. In a significant repositioning of his party, Mr Clegg called for a “tolerant Britain” that is “zero-tolerant of abuse”.
“I’m determined we lay the foundations for an immigration system that embodies this nation’s instincts and its values: our openness and tolerance on one hand; our sense of fair play, on the other,” he said. “The Liberal Democrats are at the forefront of that. We want to stay a tolerant Britain, and to that end we will be zero-tolerant of abuse.”
Denying that he is trying to “outflank” the Conservatives or Labour, he insisted there should not be an “arms race of rhetoric” and “low populism” on immigration.
However, a different message on the sensitive issue was given last night by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary. In an interview with Parliament’s The House magazine, he attacked the Tories’ target of cutting net migration to less than 100,000 a year, saying it is not the Coalition’s policy.
Mr Cable, who has clashed with Ms May over the target, said it was “unattainable” without “enormous damage” and was only achievable if the Tories “increase the number of British people emigrating”. He said Indian and Chinese people believed the UK had a “Britain is closed” sign.
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Israel-Gaza crisis: YouTube footage shows scale of destruction after 50 days of shelling
Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
iPhone 6 'hidden code' could indicate sharper screens or bigger phones
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD : Randstad Education So...
£12 per hour: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street A well es...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: We are currently recruiting ...
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Infrastructure Engineer, VMware (VCP, NetApp,...