LIB Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has called for tougher immigration controls in densely populated areas like the South East.

Mr Huhne, who has served as Eastleigh MP since 2001, said the immigration policies of both Labour and the Tories would allow too many people to settle in the most densely populated parts of the country where services were under the most pressure.

He said some parts of the region had experienced a "large unplanned influx of foreign workers", leading to "undue strain on our public services and on housing".

He said: "In some districts, pay rates have been adversely affected. That was the case in Southampton, where building trades saw skilled rates slashed."

He added: "These unintended consequences have bred resentments which in turn make it harder for people to integrate."

Mr Huhne described Labour's introduction of a points-based system, aimed at ensuring only immigrants with much-needed skills were let into the country, as "a step in the right direction".

But he cautioned that its "one-size-fits-all approach" ignored the different economic needs of the regions and nations of the country.

Neither Labour's system, nor the Tories' proposal for a national limit on immigration, could prevent new arrivals from heading straight for "the most populous and attractive parts of the country", the South East, which was now "the most densely populated part of Europe", with less water per head than in Syria or the Sudan.

Mr Huhne said: "We would add a regional element to the points-based system. It should be easier for migrants to get a work permit in areas [like Scotland] that want more people. Correspondingly, it should be harder to get a work permit in areas [like the South East] where the population is becoming unsustainable."

He added: "The Liberal Democrats are the only party offering a hard-headed assessment of the needs of different regions and parts of the economy. We need a system that makes migrants go to those areas that most need them."