The Deputy Prime Minster, Nick Clegg, today made a major intervention in the debate on immigration and called for cash deposits of more than £1,000 from some migrants travelling to the UK as visitors.
Mr Clegg said that migrants make a huge contribution to the UK but there must be “zero tolerance” of abuse.
The security bond idea was floated several times by the previous Labour Government but was never implemented. Labour had a “lamentable record” on immigration, he said, and “Just because they could not get it right does not mean we cannot do it better”.
Mr Clegg promised 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 commands public support.
The Deputy Prime Minister also revealed plans to increase cash penalties against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The maximum fine is currently set at £10,000 per illegal worker and Mr Clegg is calling for this figure to be doubled.
The Liberal Democrats have distanced themselves from a targeted reduction in net migration – the difference between the number of people arriving in the UK and those leaving – to the tens of thousands.
Mr Clegg also said that the Lib Dems have dropped plans, outlined in their 2010 manifesto, to offer illegal immigrants who had been in the UK for ten years an “earned route” to citizenship, saying it risked undermining public confidence.
The Prime Minster will deliver a speech on immigration policy on Monday 25 March 2013.