Tory MP Christopher Chope Does It Again – Blocks Bill To Protect Women At Risk Of FGM
Tory MP Christopher Chope has blocked a bill that would have aided the prevention of female genital mutilation of children.
There was an audible groan from MPs in the Commons on Friday when the 71-year-old MP shouted “object!” to the bill getting a second reading.
Sir Christopher Chope shouted “object” to the law clearing a key hurdle without debate – the same tactic he used for a law against upskirting last year.
He was branded “appalling” by fellow Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who had been steering the Children Act (Amendment) (FGM) Bill through the Commons, as Tory chiefs faced calls to strip him of the party whip.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid blasted: “Very disappointed by this. FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice. We will do all we can protect girls at risk.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: “Outraged Chris Chope has blocked the FGM safeguarding Bill in Parliament today. His actions are wrong, pure & simple.”
Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “It’s unacceptable that this dinosaur of a Tory MP consistently gets away with blocking new laws which would protect the safety and rights of women.
“This makes it even more shocking that he was given a knighthood by Theresa May last year.
“Christopher Chope is causing shame and embarrassment on the Tories but also for the country and it’s time for the Tories to show they really care about these issues by stripping him of the whip.”
Furious anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali said he was “an embarrassment to his party and humanity”. She tweeted: “He needs his whip and knighthood removed.”
The backbench Bill would make it easier for judges to step in and place child victims of the practice in care – taking them away from their parents.
The Bill was fully approved by the House of Lords in November – but because it is not proposed by the government, receives only limited debating time in the Commons.
Despite not being debated today, it could have passed its “second reading” without debate if MPs had chosen to do so.
It would have still been scrutinised by MPs in a lengthy ‘committee stage’ before returning for a final vote.
But because Sir Christopher shouted “object”, it will remain on the back burner. It has next been listed for March 15 but could potentially be blocked then.
The MP previously faced a furious backlash when he shouted “object” to a law making upskirting a specific criminal offence.
Anonymous Parliamentary workers adorned his office door with women’s underwear and the law was eventually passed in another form after Cabinet ministers intervened.
Sir Christopher has previously said he is not against the individual laws, and is simply making the point that laws should not be passed without proper debate.
But Mr Goldsmith today said he had only chosen to shout “object” to some laws – and not others by his friends.
Mr Goldsmith tweeted before the incident today: “Today Chris Chope MP will once again use arcane procedure to block a Bill that would amend the 1989 Children Act to include FGM on the list of things (like forced marriage or domestic violence) for which the courts can issue protection orders if they think a child is at risk.
“The Bill has been scrutinised fully in the Lords, and is supported now by Government. Chope has been begged not to block it by FGM campaigners.
“People ask why he would do such a thing – and indeed why he has similarly blocked motions to debate Hillsborough, pardon Alan Turing, ban the use of wild animals in circuses, target ‘upskirting’ and much much more besides.
“His argument is that he simply wants Bills properly debated. But it is a pretence.
“If today’s Bill goes through, we will have Committee Stage, Report Stage and Third Reading – all of which involve scrutiny and debate. If it is blocked, there is no debate.”
Labour shadow culture minister Rosena Allin-Khan demanded Tory chairman Brandon Lewis “reprimand” the MP.
Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said Sir Christopher had “reached a new low”, adding: “Absolutely appalling behaviour. He is a disgrace to parliament, his constituency and women & children everywhere.”
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