David Cameron has said that he would halve the period for which EU migrants could claim benefits to three months.
Theresa May, the home secretary, joined Mr Cameron on a visit to immigration enforcement officers to highlight moves to restrict access to benefits.
However, the European Commission made clear that it wanted to investigate whether the restrictions complied with EU laws on free movement.
Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, took on claims that the move could affect fewer than 10,000 people. He said an estimate that it would save taxpayers £500 million was based on figures supplied by the independent watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Figures collected last August showed that there were 121,000 people claiming benefits who were non-British EU citizens, Mr Duncan Smith said.
Related, from Liberal Democrat Voice: Opinion: The ECHR* is a “British Bill of Rights”
Human rights are not something that can be repealed or taken away but something we must protect within every inch of our ability. They extend to everyone. The ECHR sets the bar in countries that are signatories but as an important principle of its creation, it sets the bar to all people where it can, which is a principle I will not readily give up…
*ECHR: European Court of Human Rights