Nick Clegg confrence speech Nick Clegg appeared on BBC1's Politics Show earlier today and faced an audience of voters asking questions about a variety of issues.

When it came to immigration, however, he found himself in something of a pickle. You can now watch the encounter here.

Read on…

Brian Craddock (audience member): Chris Huhne has explained that the Lib Dem policy on immigration is to only allow immigrants into sparsely populated areas of the country.  If such immigrants came into the country and were declared redundant, could they move to a different part of the country to look for a job?
Clegg: No.  No, is the straight answer.
Craddock: Would you then pay them unemployment benefit to stay where they were?
Clegg: What we’re saying is that there’s basically good and bad immigration. It’s good, I think, to welcome people to this country to help in our public services where we don’t have people who can do – I mean classic example, I was in a paediatric ward
Jon Sopel (presenter): What about what question from Brian Craddock about unemployment benefit? If they’re not allowed to move and they lose their job, what happens?
Clegg: Well, we’d reintroduce the exit controls which Conservative and Labour governments removed, so you know when people have to leave as well as when people come in.
Craddock: So you’d deport them?
Clegg: Well you’d make sure that is someone has come here to do a job of work, that if they haven’t got that job of work to do they return home. Of course.
Sopel: So if they came over and you’re saying they get a job, they think the job is for five years, whatever and the point that Mr Craddock makes is that they lose it in 3 weeks, at the end of the three weeks, they’ve been in Britain for 3 weeks and they’re kicked out?
Clegg: Clearly the way the work permit system works is that you come to work for a certain period of time where you have an entitlement to work for a certain period of time. What’s not happening at the moment, and that’s the great problem, particularly with the example of students who overstay their visas, is that people who aren’t entitled to be here remain here. That’s the real – that’s the real nub of the problem. By reintroducing exit controls and by making a legal obligation on employers to show that if they employ someone they have a right to be employed in that area, we think that you’d encourage immigration in those areas where there are jobs that need to be done and you discourage them from those areas where they’re not.  They do it in Australia by the way.
Sopel: Mr Clegg, I’m just going to try and get you to answer that question again. If you’ve been here, you’ve come over with your family because you’ve got a job, you lose the job 3 weeks later, under Lib Dem policies you’re kicked out.
Clegg: We’re not proposing to change the rules at all on what you do while you’re here legally and entitled to be here.
Sopel: So when you lose your job you lose your entitlement to be here?
Clegg: It would remain exactly as it is now, but what is not happening, and this is the real problem  at the moment, is that people are overstaying their visas, and they’re staying here because there’s been no way of monitoring whether they should go or not.
Sopel: Mr Craddock, are you happy with that answer?
Craddock: No. If someone gets offered a job in this country, he comes here to do a job, maybe for five years,  three or four weeks later he’s made redundant, unexpectedly. Do  you let  him find a job in a different part of the country, you’ve said no. Do you pay him unemployment benefit and therefore make him a drain on society, or do you deport him?
: Well we clearly want them working in those areas where there is a demand for the kind of work that they want to do. And all the experience is that if you can do that in a smart way, it’s what they do in Australia for instance, you match job vacancies to people who want to come into this country and do that work…

Mr Clegg also managed to find himself contradicted by his own chief of staff on the Scotland opt-out of the very same programme on the topic of whether to increase fuel duty. Iain Dale has covered that here.

Jonathan Isaby