Tory MP Christopher Chope defends blocking bill to protect girls from FGM amid furious backlash

Sir Christopher Chope previously blocked bill to make upskirting a criminal offence

Adam Forrest
Monday 26 November 2018 11:58
Comments
Peter Chope blocks bill in House of Commons protecting women from FGM

The Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope has defended his decision to block a parliamentary bill designed to protect children from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Sir Christopher – who previously sparked outrage by blocking a bill to make upskirting a criminal offence – has been widely criticised for obstructing an FGM prevention bill in the House of Commons.

Crossbench peer Lord Berkeley of Knighton, who sponsored the FGM bill, said he was “furious” at the move and said it is “amazing that Chope can halt an important improvement”.

But the controversial MP for Christchurch in Dorset justified his objection on procedural grounds on Monday, suggesting the proposal had not been subject to proper debate.

Sir Christopher told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “bills should not go through on a nod on a second reading without debate”.

Lord Berkeley’s private members’ bill would have seen a one-line amendment to the Children’s Act 1989, which would “considerably extend protection to young girls” at greatest risk of genital mutilation.

The Labour peer said his bill had already been through “microscopic examination”.

Sir Christopher explained: “I sympathise enormously with the frustration of people campaigning to make sure the law is effective. I think there’s obviously a case for changing the law.”

However, the Tory MP does not believe private members’ bills are the proper way to amend legislation and said it is the role of government to introduce its own FGM bill.

In June he blocked the upskirting prevention bill – which has since been adopted as a governmental bill and is expected to pass in the coming months – for the same reason.

“In the same way as I was concerned about the upskirting issue ... I forced the government to introduce its own legislation,” said Sir Christopher. “I think that’s exactly what should happen in relation to this.”

Nimco Ali, founder of the anti-FGM charity Daughters of Eve, said Lord Berkeley’s bill would have allowed for more criminal prosecutions in relation to FGM.

“This is a simple protection order,” she said. “Preventing FGM is the only way to end FGM.”

Ms Ali also urged Sir Christopher to join the all-party parliamentary group against FGM and support future efforts to tackle the problem.

The Tory MP’s actions have also sparked an angry reaction on Twitter, with many people calling for him to be deselected.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in