Britain’s overseas aid budget has been used to help pay for Israel’s “illegal occupation” of Palestine for more than 50 years, a peer has claimed.

Former Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge, who now sits as a non-affiliated member in the House of Lords, argued the situation made the UK “complicit” in breaking international law.

She made her criticism during a debate in the Lords on the impact of the international aid budget.

Lady Tonge, who served as MP for Richmond Park between 1997 and 2005, said: “Could the minister tell us how much longer our aid budget will be spent on providing health services and education for the people of Palestine, who could well provide that themselves if they were free to do so and their economy was functioning?

“Perhaps he could tell us why it is that we are supporting and funding the occupation of Palestine, have been supporting it for 50 years, the occupation by another country and a rich country to boot, whilst doing nothing to resolve the situation, which makes the aid necessary?

“Have we ever done this before in our history? The occupying power under international law is responsible for the welfare of the people it is occupying.

“Fifty years we have been shoring them up. To use our Department for International Development budget to help pay for Israel’s illegal occupation over 50 years surely makes us complicit also in breaking international law.

“Considering the length of time this outrage has been allowed to continue it is an extremely ineffective way of using our aid budget.”