Tory MP proposes law to ban wearing burkas

Andy McSmith
Thursday 01 July 2010 00:00 BST

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Louise Thomas

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A Conservative politician is seeking to make it a criminal offence to wear a burka in public. Philip Hollobone, the MP for Kettering, was the subject of a complaint to police from the Northamptonshire Race Equality Council five months ago because of remarks he made about burkas.

He has returned to the fray by tabling a private members' Bill called the Face Covering (Regulations) Bill which would ban "certain facial coverings" from being worn in public.

There is no realistic prospect of the measure becoming law. Mr Hollobone came 17th among backbenchers who drew lots for the right to sponsor private members' Bills, which means it is highly unlikely ever to be debated. Even if it was, it would be doomed to fail without government support. But by presenting the Bill yesterday, he secured the right to have it printed. "I think it is inappropriate to cover your face in public, whether it's a burka, a balaclava or anything else," he said. "We are never going to get along with having a fully integrated society if a substantial minority insist on concealing their identity from everyone else."

Mr Hollobone is noted for being Parliament's cheapest MP, and one of the most right wing. During the MPs' expenses scandal, it emerged that his office costs and expenses were lower than those of any other MP.

The UK Independence Party chose not to field a candidate against Mr Hollobone at the election because his views on Europe are so close to those of Ukip. He was reported to police in February after he said wearing a burka was "the religious equivalent of going round with a paper bag over your head with two holes for eyes".

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