Tougher checks will be carried out at Britain's borders in an immigration clampdown - but not until 2014
Home Secretary John Reid made the pledge today as he unveiled a raft of changes, including promising to make more stringent checks abroad so only those with permission can travel to the UK, and ensure the number of people leaving was monitored.
In a statement to the Commons on immigration reform, Mr Reid said "counting out" procedures at borders would be reinstated in phases up to 2014. He added that biometric ID requirements would be in place for the highest risk countries by 2008, including taking fingerprints from all visa applicants.
The Home Secretary also confirmed that the Border Control Service would be strengthened and made a "visible, uniformed presence".
To make this possible, Mr Reid said spending on "enforcement and compliance" with immigration rules would be doubled by 2009-10.
Mr Reid was publishing his review of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) which was at the centre of the foreign national prisoners fiasco.
Under the reforms, travellers will be refused permission to board planes, trains or boats if they do not have the right documents.
Plans to put passport control officers in uniform and privatise some of the Immigration Service's operations have already been revealed.
When he took office just over two months ago, the Home Secretary inherited the scandal surrounding the failure to deport more than 1,000 foreign criminals on their release from prison.
His predecessor Charles Clarke was forced out of office over the fiasco, despite saying he wanted to stay in the post in order to sort out the mess.
Weeks after his appointment, Mr Reid told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that the immigration service was "not fit for purpose" and had inadequate leadership.
He was also forced to admit he had no precise figures for the number of illegal immigrants in the country.
He said the Government had inherited a legacy of an unknown number from previous administrations and such people led clandestine lives.
He was forced into the embarrassing admission after Dave Roberts, director of enforcement and removals at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, told MPs he did not have "the faintest idea" how many illegal immigrants were in Britain.
Mr Reid has said a wholesale transformation of the Home Office is probably needed and refused to rule out splitting it into smaller sections.
He said there were eight priority areas to focus on, including better identifying those involved with the criminal justice, immigration and asylum systems and making it an obligation for criminals to declare their nationality.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said ahead of today's announcement that it "beggared belief" that the Government had taken nearly a decade to sort out the immigration system.
Last week Mr Reid published two other major reform packages to knock the Home Office into shape and "rebalance" the criminal justice system in favour of the victim.
Mr Clegg said: "It beggars belief that the Government has taken nearly 10 years to sort out the administrative mess of our immigration system. "We need a comprehensive approach to reform, not merely cosmetic changes."
Parts of the Home Office, including areas of the IND, were declared "not fit for purpose" by Mr Reid after the shambles surrounding 1,000 foreign prisoners who were freed without consideration for deportation led to the sacking of Mr Clarke.
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