Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has claimed that Tory attacks on the Human Rights Act are being used "to hide the government's failings" regarding the deportation of foreign criminals.
Speaking on Sunday's Andrew Marr show, Cooper said: "The number of foreign criminals being deported dropped by 15 per cent since the last election. I think that is a problem.
"I think that when someone has committed a crime we should be able to deport them back to their home country and that that has dropped.
"The reason that has dropped is not the Human Rights Act, the Human Rights act has not changed.
"I think it [the Human Rights Act] is being used as something to hide behind by the Government when they are actually failing."
She instead blamed structural failings for the drop.
"Actually what has happened is that you have growing problems with bureaucracy and delays in the Home Office, there is a problem with the Border Agency not getting its act together," said Cooper.
The comments come as Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday suggested that Britain end its commitment to the European Convention on Human rights, in a speech many believe was designed to burnish her credentials as future party leader with the Tory right.
On Friday radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada was arrested for breaching bail conditions ahead of a renewed government bid to deport him to Jordan to face terror charges.
In the speech, May accused the European Court of Human Rights of "moving the goalposts" in Britain's longstanding efforts to deport Qatada.
Cooper said: "Theresa May actually told us last year that the course of action she was taking could lead to him (Qatada) being swiftly put on a plane but I am concerned that she did not appeal against the European Court judgement 12 months ago."
The Labour government passed the Human Rights Act in 1998, and Cooper suggested that the government work through established procedures to combat unpopular decions rather than pulling out of its European human rights commitments altogether.
"They (the government) did have their chance to make their arguments in the European court and did not do so."
Last week justice secretary Chris Grayling pledged that if the Tories were to win a majority in the 2015 election they would repeal the Human Rights Act
To contact the editor, e-mail: