A former Montgomeryshire MP-turned cross-bench peer has claimed that the Government's Rwanda legislation is a move towards "totalitarianism". 

Several prominent peers have already expressed concerns about the scope of the legislation, which seeks to enable Parliament to deem Rwanda a safe country and gives ministers the power to disregard some human rights law.

And Lord Carlile, who was Montgomeryshire's Liberal Democrat MP from 1983 until 1997, told Radio 4's Today programme that many peers fear the integrity of the British legal system is “under attack” from Tory infighting.

He added that it is the House of Lord’s role to revise legislation and protect the public from abuses of legal correctness and principle by the Government.


He said: “I think many of us in the House of Lords believe that is exactly what has happened, that good policymaking and the integrity of our legal system are under attack because of internal political quarrelling in the Conservative Party.

“If you want to blame someone, you can blame the lawyers, but the lawyers on the whole do not accept that. What we are doing is trying to countermand meddling by politicians in the law.

“It’s been Government elevating itself to an unacceptable level above the law, above our much-admired Supreme Court, and above the reputation internationally of the United Kingdom law.

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“We’ve seen in various countries the damage that is done when governments use perceived and often ill-judged political imperatives to place themselves above the courts – this is a step towards totalitarianism and an attitude that the United Kingdom usually deprecates.

“I think you’ll find that many of lawyers in the House of Lords will say this is a step too far, this is illegitimate interference by politics with the law, on an issue that can be solved in other ways.”

Late on Tuesday the Lords backed by a majority of 43 an unprecedented move seeking to delay a treaty with the east African nation that is intended to make the policy legally watertight.