Unmarried men are a “problem” for society and are more likely to get into debt or commit crime, Iain Duncan Smith has claimed.

The Chingford and Woodford Green MP said at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester cohabiting couples have unstable relationships compared to those who are married.

The Huffington Post reported the former Tory leader told audiences unmarried men are “released” to do things such as commit crime and take drugs.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “Cohabitation is a very different relationship from marriage, It is inherently unstable.”

“What has been going on all these years is the men that have been absent from these families in many of these low income groups are now a problem.

“They are out, no longer having to bring something in for their family, so they can be released to do all the things they wouldn’t normally do and shouldn’t do.”

The MP, who has been married to his wife, Betsy, for 35 years, said young men needed to be taught the importance of marriage or they would develop a “low value for women” and seek out the “alternative on the internet”.

He added: “The alternative on the internet, now so readily available, is about abusive sex and low value for women. That is where they will go.

“That’s why, certainly at the bottom end of the income scale, there is such collapse of self-worth among young girls because they see themselves as objects because they are taught from the beginning that is the only way to get a man.”