Vince Cable said pursuing a net immigration figure was "not a Government objective" and would "not be helpful", after a report said official migration statistics were not fit for purpose.
The Business Secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show:
There's this net immigration figure that the Conservatives are very preoccupied by, but it's not a Government objective.
Obsessing about a net immigration number is not helpful. The largest number of people counted as immigrants in the UK are overseas students. So the idea that you're pursuing a net immigration figure is very misleading.
We're not a totalitarian state, we don't count every single person. Actually it's quite difficult to be an illegal immigrant in the UK: you can't work, you can't have access to benefits. So the idea that there's some vast, hidden army of people is almost certainly completely wrong.
More top news
Sheriff's deputies were called to the scene in LA County after residents reported hearing muffled crying.
Further one in eight expect to be aged between 71 and 80 years when they finally stop work, according to survey.
The team behind an irreverent US card game made more than $71,000 by giving people the chance to pay $5 without getting anything in return.