SHEFFIELD MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has explained why his party has toughened its stance on immigration - with plans announced for migrants to pay a £1,000 cash bond on entry to the UK which they will only get back when they leave.
Speaking to The Star, Mr Clegg said changes were needed to maintain ‘public confidence’ - and not due to the rise in the polls of right wing UKIP, which came second in the Rotherham by elections amid concerns in South Yorkshire about immigration.
The Sheffield Hallam MP and Lib Dem leader has also abandoned one of his party’s previous policies to offer an amnesty to illegal immigrants who had been in Britain for 10 years.
Instead, he spoke of ‘zero tolerance towards abuse’ of the asylum system.
Exit checks will be reintroduced to keep track of migrants leaving the UK once their visa has run out.
In a separate announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to limit which benefits migrants can claim after six months of being in the UK.
But Mr Clegg said: “The changes are not because of the UKIP effect.
“I have picked up from a lot of people across Sheffield that the city is a welcoming and wonderfully diverse community - but to maintain that we need to have confidence in how the immigration system is run.
“The problem is exit checks were abolished and there was no record kept of who was coming in or out.
“We will also be increasing fines for companies employing someone who is here illegally.”
Mr Clegg said migrants from ‘high risk’ countries - those with a history of immigrants coming to the UK and overstaying their visas - would be subject to the deposit scheme ‘to ensure they have the incentive to leave’.
He added: “In order to be a tolerant Britain, we need to have zero tolerance towards abuse of the system.”
Mr Clegg said he also wants to ensure people using public services ‘take up English’.