Calls for the introduction of a 28-day time limit on immigration detention have been rejected by the Government with a minister labelling such a restriction as a "blunt instrument".

Both the SNP and Labour called for the limit to bring about an end to indefinite detention, saying that failure to do so would be unacceptable.

But Immigration Minister James Brokenshire rejected the calls, telling the House of Commons that a Government review into the wider issue of detention will report back in the New Year.

On the 28-day time limit, Mr Brokenshire said: "I think that is a blunt instrument that does not take account of all of the range of different circumstances that are redolent here from foreign national offenders to those who may not be compliant with the requirements that we put upon them, who abscond, and therefore there is a need to look at this on a case by case basis.

"But I do undertake to the House that it is precisely with that efficiency and effectiveness focus that we are conducting our review and will be reverting to the House as I have outlined."

Mr Brokenshire stressed the Home Office has a policy to safeguard against "unnecessary or arbitrary detention".

"The presumption is in favour of liberty, cases must be considered on their individual circumstances, detention must be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary," he said.

But Labour's shadow home affairs minister Keir Starmer said indefinite detention causes "very real" psychological harm to vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and particularly affects women.

Immigration detention is used for people who have been refused permission to stay in the UK and for foreign criminals who are awaiting deportation, but also for those who are having their applications processed, including vulnerable asylum seekers.

There have been cases where detainees have been held for more than a year, and a recent report into the controversial Yarl's Wood detention centre for women was scathing, highlighting the detention of pregnant women and increasing violence.

Mr Starmer pointed out that the cross-party joint all party parliamentary groups on refugees and on migration said Britain's proud tradition of upholding justice and the right to liberty was being put at risk by indefinite detention.

Moving an amendment to the Immigration Bill to impose a 28-day time limit, he said: "It is a matter of increasing concern to many in this House and beyond.

"The fact of and the indefinite nature of immigration detention causes very real distress and anxiety, particularly among vulnerable groups, and it's the indefinite nature of the detention that adds to that anxiety and distress.

"There's very strong evidence of the impact on varying groups, but particularly on women.

"I think I'm right in saying that the UK is the only country in Europe that doesn't have a time limit of any sort on immigration detention.

"This is an area of increasing concern and (we are in) a position where justifying indefinite immigration detention is increasingly difficult.

"To sit back at this stage and simply accept the status quo is not an acceptable way of proceeding."

SNP immigration spokesman Stuart C McDonald said if MPs were to back a time limit it would represent a "silver lining on the dark cloud" that is the Bill.

He said: "We are the only country without a time limit so it is inexcusable for this country not to operate one."

The Bill also makes provision to make illegal working a criminal offence.

The SNP and Labour sought to remove it from the proposed legislation but their bid to do so ultimately failed by 312 to 256, a majority of 56.

Debating other amendments, Mr Brokenshire outlined controversial plans to strip failed asylum seekers of basic support of shelter and around £35 a week for essentials.

The Immigration Minister insisted it was not fair for taxpayers to support people who have no right to remain in the UK and can safely leave the country in the eyes of the Home Office.

The Government was providing support to around 15,000 failed asylum seekers as of April, with support costing an estimated £73 million in 2014/5.

He said: "It isn't appropriate for public money to be used to support illegal migrants including failed asylum seekers who can leave the UK and should do so.

"Schedule 8 will therefore restrict the availability of such support consistent with our international obligations and remove incentives for migrants to remain in the UK where they have no lawful basis for doing so.

"The system of support for which Parliament legislated in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to discharge our obligations to asylum seekers is in our judgement too often used to support those whose asylum cases have failed and who have no lawful basis to remain within the UK."

Meanwhile, Mr Brokenshire rejected calls to ease the restrictions on family reunion for refugees, saying it could lead to more "asylum shopping".

Currently immediate family members such as spouses, partners and children under 18 can join their family members in the UK if those relations have refugee leave or humanitarian protection.

The Immigration Minister said the rules were less stringent than in other European countries so relaxing them could lead to more asylum seekers choosing to travel through safe countries to Britain instead of claiming in those nations.

Mr Brokenshire said 21,000 family reunion visas had been issued in the last five years.

He said: "By contrast some EU countries require up to two years' lawful residence before a refugee becomes eligible and impose time restrictions on how quickly family members must apply once their sponsor becomes eligible.

"In our judgment, widening the criteria would not be practical or sustainable, it would be a significant additional factor potentially on how the UK may be viewed in terms of those who may choose different jurisdictions as to where to make either asylum claims, and I think undermine our wider asylum strategy."