Tony Blair said today he would be taking a "close interest" in immigration issues following the dramatic resignation of Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes.
At his monthly Downing Street news conference, the Prime Minister - who insisted that Ms Hughes had behaved "with integrity" when she offered her resignation - said that there was "no question" of him taking personal charge of the Home Office.
But he made clear that he would be more closely involved with immigration matters.
He said: "There are issues to do with immigration. Of course, I will take a close interest in that. We need to deal with it because otherwise it becomes a real source of tension and misunderstanding within our own community here in this country."
Mr Blair said the Government had to take "swift action" if it emerged there had been "systematic fraud" in relation to applications from Bulgaria and Romania.
But he insisted the Government's asylum figures were correct and it was important not to think everyone entering Britain was involved in illegal fraud.
"If there has been systematic fraud in respect of one particular part of this, which is in relation to these accession countries, we have to deal with that.
"If there have been any failures in the system, we have got to expose that very clearly for people."
But he said the most important thing was to take action in areas where the Government knew there were problems.
Mr Blair said of Ms Hughes: "The reason why she felt she had to resign was because she felt that, on reflection, the answers she gave in interviews on the Monday night were not consistent with the correspondence that she was going to give to this inquiry.
"Well, I think she has behaved with integrity in coming forward immediately to me and saying this is what I think I should do."
Mr Blair added: "I'm saying the very reason why you have to investigate this claim in respect of Romania and Bulgaria, which is a different dimension of similar claims made in respect of the same countries a few weeks ago, is that there is obviously something that went on that was wrong here.
"The point I am saying is, the question is, was this, as has been suggested, a deliberate permission to allow in fraudulent and forged claims, or was it a misunderstanding of what the entitlements of people were from accession countries? Those are two different things.
"Where there is abuse within the system, we have to deal with it. Where there was abuse of the asylum system, we have dealt with it."
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