THE UK Internal Market Bill is the most " dangerous and baffling" piece of legislation to come before the House of Lords in more than two decades.

Lord Newby, a Liberal Democrat peer, made the claim during a debate on the bill this afternoon. 

It came as the Centre on Constitutional Change produced a report stating the bill would have a damaging effect on devolution if it was forced through without consent of the Scottish Government and other devolved governments. 

The Peer said the legislation "on a number of grounds" was "the most dangerous and baffling piece of legislation to come before your Lordships’ House in the 23 years since I became a Member."

He explained: "It is dangerous because, for the first time in that period, a British Government are explicitly legislating to break their word in a treaty recently entered into and in breach of international law.

"It is baffling because none of its other provisions are necessary at all to meet its ostensible policy goals."

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He said the attempt to “undermine devolution under the innocuous cloak of maintaining market access for goods and services across the UK isn’t simply disingenuous, it’s dangerous, because it can only give succour to those who wants to break up the UK.”

More than 100 peers have signed up to speak in the debate today, with a further day of discussion set for tomorrow. 

HeraldScotland: Ming Campbell, former MP for North-East Fife

Sir Ming Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MP, encouraged his fellow peers to "have none if it" and questioned how he, as a QC, could reconcile the Government's intention to break the law with his duty as a lawyer.

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Lord Campbell said:"For those who support the government, please tell me how I can fulfill the obligations and responsibilities of that privilege by endorsing the illegality contained in this bill?

"Whether the government exercises, in the end, the power to commit illegality or not, the damage is done, the reputation besmirched, and the credibility of the United Kingdom undermined.

"This is shabby business, and we should have none of it."

HeraldScotland: Margaret Thatcher

Former Tory leader Lord Howard of Lympne quoted Margaret Thatcher, who said: “Britain does not break treaties. It would be bad for Britain. Bad for relations with the rest of the world and bad for any future treaty on trade.”

“That says it all,” he added. 

Leading lawyer Lord Pannick, who played a key role in successful Brexit-related legal challenges, said legislation which set out to break international law was “without precedent”.

He argued the Government should be “ashamed” for producing a Bill that attracted such condemnation.

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Cross-bencher Lord Pannick added: “Like those unfortunate people who do not feel pain and who are therefore at grave risk of injuring themselves and those around them, this Government does not feel shame.”

As such, it fell to the Lords “to shout out a warning” to the Government that the contentious section of the Bill “will if enacted endanger the rule of law”, he said.