PM: Tory-only government would be tougher in some areas

David Cameron David Cameron appeared to get his own pensions policy wrong under questioning from Steve Wright

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David Cameron has said a Conservative government led by him would have been tougher on immigration control and welfare reform.

Speaking on BBC Radio 2, the prime minister said these were two policy areas where his party had to compromise in coalition with the Lib Dems.

Mr Cameron has been under fire from Tory backbenchers over compromises with the Lib Dems over NHS reforms.

And he has been criticised for being too "liberal" on sentencing policy.

But he chose not to get into those areas when he questioned by DJ Steve Wright about what difference being in coalition with the Lib Dems had made.


He said: "I think we have all had to make compromises.

"If I was running a Conservative-only government, we would be making further steps on things like immigration control...or making sure that if you are not prepared to work, you can't go on welfare.

"I think we would be tougher than that."

He also appeared to get his own policy on pensions - which is being debated by MPs - wrong.

The state pension age will actually move to 66 for men and women in 2020 (and to 65 for women in 2018) but Mr Cameron said: "What we have done with the state pension, we have linked it to earnings ..We have to pay for that.

"And one of the ways we are doing that is saying the retirement age will move to 66 in 2018."

The prime minister's official spokesman attempted to play down the apparent gaffe, saying Mr Cameron was merely saying the process towards 66 for men and women begins in 2018 but will be complete by 2020.

On immigration, the Conservatives secured an annual cap - in the face of stiff opposition from Liberal Democrat ministers.

The Lib Dems were also forced to ditch one of their flagship policies - earned citizenship for illegal migrants.

But Nick Clegg's party did extract an agreement to end the detention of children in immigration centres.

And Business Secretary Vince Cable managed to secure key exemptions to the immigration cap for highly skilled workers and those coming into the UK on intra-company transfers.

Liberal Democrat ministers have also been pushing for more exceptions to the proposed £26,000 benefits cap to provide "fairness" and "justice".

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