Home Secretary Theresa May says the Government’s efforts to reduce immigration to the UK to tens of thousands is now a target for the longer term, rather than something that will be achieved before the next General Election.
She spoke out on the issue as new figures showed that net migration to the UK stood at 212,000 in 2013.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr May said that there had been "heated" discussions of the Government’s immigration policies between the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
"It is no surprise to anybody that there have been long standing, possibly heated at times, discussions among the coalition on some these issues on immigration," she said.
Mrs May said that net migration is now too high to meet the goal of reducing it to tens of thousands before the next election. She said the Government was able to take action to control how many people from outside of the EU could settle in the UK, a figure she said is now at its "lowest level since the late 1990s".
Her Cabinet colleague Iain Duncan-Smith is also looking to tighten up the law on EU migrants claiming benefits in the UK, The Guardian reported.
The Work and Pensions Secretary is understood to be keen to reduce the time that people from within the EU can claim welfare payments from the current six months to just three months.
The Conservative Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, also spoke out about the party’s ambitions to reduce the number of people from within the EU who are able to migrate to the UK.
He told Sky News that the rules needed to be changed "to stop this vast mass movement across the continent, which is destabilising not only Britain, but other high-income countries in the European Union as well".