British Prime Minister David Cameron led a Government backlash against the Archbishop of Canterbury's stinging criticism of the Coalition's policy programme yesterday.

Dr Rowan Williams' outspoken comments that ministers were driving through radical policies not put to the voters infuriated Downing St.

The row between church and state intensified as the Prime Minister said he profoundly disagreed with the remarks and Cabinet ministers suggested Williams was out of touch.

Cameron said the Archbishop was entirely free to express political views but insisted his Government was acting in a good and moral manner.

"I don't think it is good or right for people and our country if we just give up on paying down our debt and just pass that down to our children. I don't think it is good or right for us to pay people to stay on welfare, trapped in poverty, when we should be trying to get them a job."

But other bishops said Williams was right to raise concerns about Government policies.

The Archbishop delivered his damning critique in an article in the New Statesman magazine, warning that ministers faced bafflement and indignation over their plans to reform the health service and schools.

- Independent