Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Vince Cable condemns government's £3000 "Security Bond" for South Asian visitors

One of the most senior members of the Coalition has criticized plans to force South Asian visitors to pay a £3000 "security bond" before travelling to the United Kingdom.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the proposed bond has caused "outrage" in India and called for a more "sensible" approach to deter visa overstayers.

The Home Office has said bonds will be introduced beginning in November for visitor visa applicants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria; countries deemed "high risk".

The bond was originally proposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrats Leader Nick Clegg who recommended a £1000 bond.

Mr Cable however, said that the recommendation had been "misinterpreted" by the Conservatives. 

"What Nick Clegg said was if somebody in the Indian sub-continent, for example, was turned down for a visa, they could, as an alternative, come up with a bond," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"And had that proposal been accepted I think most people would not have seen a problem with it. It would actually make it easier for some people to come who had good reason to do so.

"But the way some of our colleagues interpreted was in a much more negative way, of saying that everybody who comes here should pay this very large bond."

Mr Cable claimed that the plan would harm relations with important trading partners such as India.

His comments come a day after Jaguar Land Rover - owned by India's Tata Group - announced it would invest more than £1.5 billion at its manufacturing plant in the West Midlands, creating 1700 jobs in the process.

Last week, senior Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather said she would quit the Coalition over her party's position on immigration. 

She told The Observer that the visa bond had left her feeling "desolate" and "catastrophically depressed".

Home Secretary Theresa May says that the problem of visa overstayers was one of the biggest challenges facing immigration authorities.

- Viji Alles



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