DAVID Blunkett last night unveiled stringent measures to stop thousands of asylum seekers illegally entering Britain every year. The new rules will take effect from the beginning of next week.

The home secretary, trying to cope with a groaning immigration system, announced plans to add seven more countries to the list of places from which asylum applications would be presumed to be ''clearly unfounded''.

The seven countries to be added to the list are Albania, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro (previously the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). A Home Office spokesman said that asylum seekers from these countries habitually clogged up the system.

Mr Blunkett said: ''The introduction in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 of a list of safe countries has dramatically cut the numbers of abusive asylum claims by nationals from the 10 EU accession countries. I intend to build on that success by adding a further seven countries - all democracies with effective criminal justice systems, from which it is not credible to suggest people routinely fear for their lives.''

The other measures include an end to asylum applications being accepted through the post; the requirement of visas from those travelling to the UK from certain European countries on refugee travel documents, to prevent people claiming asylum in the UK when they already have refugee status elsewhere; and the start of a consultation process on tightening up the issuing of travel documents (certificates of identity) to those with exceptional leave to remain (ELR) in the UK so that holders of these documents do not simply use them to return home.

Tighter immigration control will take effect from Tuesday when the government will suspend operation of the 1959 Council of Europe agreement on the abolition of visas for refugees.

From Monday it will be an offence for a person to arrange or facilitate the arrival into the UK of someone for the purposes of prostitution. The offence will now carry a maximum penalty of 14 years, comparable to the sentencing for drug trafficking offences.

The home secretary said: ''The trafficking and smuggling of people is a serious crime, which deserves a serious penalty. This new legislation will send a message to those that trade in human misery that we are not prepared to accept this evil crime. It will provide the legislative armoury for our enforcement agencies, to effectively tackle organised crime, including human trafficking.''