Clegg under fire for plans to make UK visitors pay £1,000
Britain's deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's plans to require overseas visitors from certain countries to pay "security bonds" of at least £1,000 (€1,170) were widely attacked last night for being "discriminatory".
Mr Clegg also announced the party was dropping its policy commitment to offer an amnesty to foreign nationals who had been living illegally in Britain for 10 years.
Under Mr Clegg's proposals, visitors would have to put up a bond that would be forfeited if they failed to leave the country when they promised.
The UK Border Agency has yet to draw up a list of which "high-risk" countries to which it would apply, but it is likely to include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and African nations.
Mr Clegg said the idea appealed to him, and the government planned to run a pilot scheme this year.
But Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, denounced the scheme, saying it was "unworkable, impractical and discriminatory".
As a Foreign Office minister under Tony Blair, Mr Vaz rejected the scheme when it was examined by the last government.
He said: "You have to decide which countries it applies to. If you do this worldwide, other countries will retaliate and ask UK citizens to pay bonds.If you choose your countries, you have got to have good reasons for that. If, as suggested, it would apply predominantly to south Asian countries, then that is discriminatory."