Anti-FGM bill being blocked by MP Chope 'appalling'

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, looks at the cameras as she walks to Cabinet meetingImage source, EPA
Image caption,
Liz Truss said she wants to change Sir Christopher's mind

A Conservative MP's decision to block a bill protecting girls from female genital mutilation was "appalling" and he must change his mind, Treasury minister Liz Truss has said.

Sir Christopher Chope provoked outrage after shouting "object" during a debate on anti-FGM legislation last week.

Ms Truss said she will "look for him around the Commons" to talk it over.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the government is "looking urgently" at how to get the law passed.

Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Brokenshire said Sir Christopher's own Conservative association was investigating, adding: "I think that's the best place for this to be dealt with."

Councillor Ray Bryan, chairman of the Christchurch and East Dorset Conservative Association, said he has called an executive meeting about the issue for later this week and he will speak to Sir Christopher then.

Sir Christopher's objection - which happened in Friday's debate in the Commons - has already been heavily criticised by cross-party MPs.

Sir Christopher argued his aim was 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.

It is not the first time Sir Christopher has come under fire for objecting. He previously infuriated campaigners by objecting to a ban on upskirting last year.

Image source, UK Parliament
Image caption,
Theresa May said she was "disappointed" when Sir Christopher blocked the upskirting bill last June

Speaking on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said: "When I see one of my colleagues opposing a measure which could have saved girls' lives, could have saved girls from that horrendous experience, I'm absolutely appalled.

"I'm going to be speaking to him this week. I want to see him change his mind, I want to see the Conservative Party make sure that we show that that is completely unacceptable."

She added: "I think Conservatives do need to put peer pressure on our colleagues who are stopping these types of things happening."

Meanwhile, asked by the BBC's Andrew Marr whether he was proud to be Sir Christopher's colleague, Mr Brokenshire said: "I'm just hugely disappointed.

"I understand that Christopher feels a lot about the process issues, about debate, about the way Parliament operates.

"But on this, I hope he will even reflect because this is a hugely sensitive and serious issue."

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Brokenshire: 'Shocking' that Chope blocked FGM bill

Mr Brokenshire reiterated what the government's Chief Whip, Julian Smith, had tweeted on Friday, saying work is being done to bring back the FGM bill in government time.

How was the bill stopped?

The private member's bill on Friday, 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.

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.

Earlier this month, a woman who mutilated her three-year-old daughter became the first person in the UK to be found guilty of FGM.