March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said people coming to Britain from certain countries should be made to post a bond to ensure they abide by their visa conditions and don’t become illegal immigrants.
Clegg said in a speech in London today that immigration has helped Britain. He argued that he’s making the case within the coalition government that migration is good for the country and the economy. Still, he said, it needs to be controlled.
“The bonds would need to be well-targeted, so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against particular groups,” Clegg said. “The amounts would need to be proportionate -- we mustn’t penalize legitimate visa applicants who will struggle to get hold of the money.”
Clegg’s Liberal Democrat colleague, Business Secretary Vince Cable, said in a magazine interview published today that Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s stated goal of getting net immigration below 100,000 a year “is not government policy and it would be unattainable.” To introduce it would do “enormous damage,” he was cited as saying in The House magazine, which is distributed to lawmakers.
Many of Cameron’s Conservatives are hostile to what they describe as poorly controlled immigration, and Home Secretary Theresa May has said she’s aiming to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” by 2015. The Liberal Democrats in government have argued for the economic benefits. In his speech, Clegg highlighted the government’s rejection of May’s plans to introduce a visa regime for Brazilians.
“A new visa regime would deter Brazilian tourists, discourage Brazilian investors,” he said.
Still, the deputy prime minister said he no longer believes in an amnesty for illegal immigrants as the Liberal Democrats review their immigration policies in the run-up to the 2015 parliamentary elections.
An amnesty “was seen by many people as a reward for those who have broken the law, and so it risked undermining public confidence,” Clegg told his audience. “That is why I am no longer convinced this specific policy should be retained in our manifesto for the next general election.”
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