UK Politics

MP Christopher Chope under fire for blocking anti-FGM bill

Sir Christopher Chope Image copyright UK Parliament

The MP who infuriated campaigners by objecting to a ban on upskirting has been heavily criticised after blocking another private members' bill.

Sir Christopher Chope shouted "object" in a debate on laws protecting children from female genital mutilation.

His Conservative colleague, Zac Goldsmith, said his actions were "appalling" - Lib Dem Tom Brake said the MP had "reached a new low".

Sir Christopher has argued his aim is to stop badly thought-out legislation.

He said he had not been objecting to the substance of the issue, but wanted to see all legislation properly debated.

Friday's Commons debate, brought by crossbench peer Lord Berkley of Knighton, would have allowed the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act, in cases where children are believed to be at risk of FGM. The bill had already cleared the House of Lords.

But Parliamentary rules mean it only requires one MP to shout "object" to a private member's bill which is listed for a second reading but not debated to block its progress.

Mr Chope has a track record of objecting to them, arguing that he does it on a point of principle, because he does not agree with legislation being brought before Parliament on a Friday without enough time for a full debate.

Last year he sparked fury when he objected to another bill to make "upskirting" a criminal offence in England and Wales - that became law last month, after the bill got government backing.

But his fellow Conservative Mr Goldsmith, who co-sponsored the bill, tweeted "please note that once again he did not object to those put forward by his friends".

Among others criticising his actions on Twitter, were the Labour MP David Lammy, who suggested Mr Chope "embodies a brand of thoughtless, regressive conservatism which can ruin lives" while anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali said she had "nothing but disgust" for Mr Chope.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Twitter he was "very disappointed" that the bill had been blocked adding: "FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice. We will do all we can to protect girls at risk."

The BBC's Parliamentary correspondent Mark D'Arcy said, with a lot of private members' bills in the queue for consideration in Parliament, this one was unlikely to become law unless the government got behind it or decided to attach it to another piece of legislation.