Visitors from India and China could be forced to take tests for tuberculosis before coming to Britain
Ministers said they are piloting a scheme to test visitors from seven countries where the disease is most prevalent.
But it is likely to prove unpopular with immigrants arriving in Britain to see relatives or to work as skilled temporary labourers.
The move is an attempt by the Government to stem the rise in the potentially fatal disease, which usually affects the lungs and can be spread by an infected person coughing or sneezing.
Last month, experts attacked Ministers for failing to act after it was revealed that Britain is the only country in western Europe experiencing a sustained rise in TB cases.
In 2005, there was an 11 per cent rise in TB cases compared with 2004. Around 400 patients die from the disease each year, mainly due to late diagnosis or complications.
Government whip Baroness Royall of Blaisdon said: "Currently we have a pilot project with seven countries - the countries in which TB is most prevalent - in which we test people before they receive their visas.
"This is a scheme which is now being evaluated and I think we will probably roll it out to more countries, like China and India."
Last year, there were around 272,000 visits from Indians in 2005 and 95,000 from China. But tourism experts say the numbers of those coming to the UK are set to increase sharply over the next few years.
Tory peers said that everybody coming to the UK for more than six months and all visitors from countries known to have high TB levels should be tested.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: "It is a highly infectious condition."
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