The Scottish National Party has used the first Prime Minister's Questions of this parliament to attack the government's record on migrants crossing the Mediterranean and the acceptance of Syrian asylum seekers.

Angus Robertson, the SNP's Westminster leader, shared his criticism over the crisis in the Mediterranean and said more needed to be done to save the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.

He said: "It is a stain on the conscience of Europe that thousands and thousands of refugees have been drowning in the Mediterranean when we could have saved lives.

"Will the PM agree that the Royal Navy, Italian Coastguard and other European navies are now doing an essential task in saving lives, however more needs to be done including offering refuge and asylum to those who need it?"

Robertson also criticised the government on the number of displaced Syrians who have been granted asylum in the UK in comparison with European nations such as Sweden and Germany.

Speaking afterwards, the MP for Moray said: "The UK government must act on this awful tragedy. We should be leading the EU in its approach to this at every opportunity."

However, David Cameron defended the government's position in the Commons, saying: "When people are fleeing torture and persecution, they can find a home here in Britain.

"But let's be clear: the vast majority of people who are setting off into the Mediterranean are not asylum seekers but are people seeking a better life.

"They've been tricked and fooled by criminal gangs and our role should be going after those criminal gangs."

Cameron also said Robertson was right to praise the Royal Navy's role, noting HMS Bulwark has been playing an "absolutely key role" in saving lives, the Press Association reported.

A record number of 4,243 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean in 24 hours, at the end of May, with the British navy helping hundreds ashore.

Hundreds of migrants were rescued by the HMS Bulwark, the Royal Navy flagship, on Saturday (30 May), as part of the enlarged European Union search and rescue operation at sea.

Robertson's comments followed a speech by Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP party leader, in Brussels where she outlined differences between her party's position on the EU and the Conservative government at Westminster.