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

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory