Deputy PM backs 'security bonds' for immigrants

22 Mar 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has backed the idea of using security bonds for some UK immigrants.

In a speech covering various aspects of immigration, Mr Clegg stated that UK visa applicants from 'high risk' countries would pay a deposit of more than £1,000, which would then be repaid when they left the country.

The idea behind the bond is a reduction in abuses of the UK visa system. Plans are understood to be under discussion regarding the implementation of the system for people coming to the country for holidays or as students. However, it would also be used to discourage workers staying in Britain illegally.

Mr Clegg said: "If we get this right, there is no reason why this cannot make the system work more efficiently."

Labour had previously considered the idea, but it was never implemented during their time in Parliament.

Mr Clegg also announced that he is abandoning his party's support for a so-called amnesty for illegal immigrants, stating that the policy was "seen by many as a reward for breaking the law". The plan had been one of the most heavily discussed aspects of the Liberal Democrats' 2010 election manifesto and promised an earned route to citizenship for any illegal migrant who had been in the UK for at least ten years.

The comments have come as business secretary Vince Cable has criticised the Tory target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands by 2015. He asserted that it was not a Liberal Democrat policy and warned that it could bring disastrous consequences for the economy.

Speaking to parliamentary magazine, The House, Mr Cable added: "We want overseas students, they are good for us, they are not bad for us.

"They bring in lots of money. We want to have lots of visitors from all over the world coming here without hassle, an easy flexible visa system … we have lots of highly specialised people – in engineers, top managers who we need in our companies – and they've got to be able to come and go freely otherwise we are not going to be able to compete internationally."