Home secretary Priti Patel said the measures would prevent the exploitation of the UK’s civil legal aid by convicted terrorists.

She added: “When an individual commits an act of terrorism, they are rejecting the democratic state that provides the benefit of civil legal aid and it cannot be right that the same individual can then go on to receive civil legal aid funded by that very state.”

Former attorney general Sir Jeremy Wright argued that he did not see any moral differences between terrorism and other serious offences (such as murder) to explain why only offences of terrorism would see legal aid eligibility withdrawn.

He said: “I do not think we have ever before contemplated determining someone’s eligibility for civil legal aid based on previous criminal behaviour.

“Is there any logic in leaving convicted terrorists eligible for criminal legal aid in relation to future allegations against them, as they will rightly remain if this bill passes, but ineligible for civil legal aid?”

MP David Davis said the restrictions could see someone convicted of terrorism-related offences 20 years ago, unable to rely on civil legal aid in seeking an injunction against a domestic abuser.

Labour MP Maria Eagle asked the government to consider whether introducing this “novel way” of determining eligibility for civil legal aid is the right way forward.

Home Office minister Damian Hinds later said the legal aid proposal ‘applies only to [terrorist] offences involving a sentence of more than two years’ and emphasised that individuals could apply to the Legal Aid Agency for exceptional case funding.