His comments come amid a growing row about the number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants preparing to come to the UK when controls are lifted at the end of the year. Twenty nine million Bulgarians and Romanians will gain the right to live and work unrestricted in Britain in 2014 under European “freedom of movement” rules and ministers have warned that there could be an “influx” in the UK.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said last week that the Government will fight European Commission proposals to allow EU migrants to claim benefits from the day they enter the United Kingdom.
During Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, Mr Cameron attacked the previous Labour government for allowing migration to get out of control. He said, “If you take the last decade net migration to the UK was running at over 200,000 a year.
“That was two million across a decade – the equivalent of two cities the size of Birmingham. It was too far, it was too high and the last government bears a huge responsibility for not taking responsible decisions.”
The Prime Minister said that while he would “welcome” those who want to come to the UK and work, the Government would be “tough” on so-called benefits tourists.
He added, “We obviously need to do more in terms of making sure that while we welcome people who want to come here and work from within the European Union we do take a tough approach to make sure that people aren’t abusing our benefits system.”
Mr Duncan Smith last week said the Government was “utterly opposed” to plans to allow EU migrants to claim benefits in other member states. Ministers fear it could lead to an influx of migrants from the EU keen to claim benefits.
Mr Duncan Smith said, “We inherited a situation where there are rules for those who come in, habitual residency tests and other rules, which require that those who come in to this country are involved in some form of work.
“But with the European legislation in front of us at the moment, they are trying to make it so that (EU migrants) can claim benefits from day one. We are utterly opposed to this. We are fighting this and it is not my intention in any way to see this happen.”