Treasury minister Liz Truss has pledged to track down Christopher Chope in parliament next week for a serious talk after the Conservative backbencher blocked a planned law making it easier to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM). Amid near-universal condemnation of the Christchurch MP from Tory colleagues after he once again used parliamentary tactics…
Treasury minister Liz Truss has pledged to track down Christopher Chope in parliament next week for a serious talk after the Conservative backbencherblocked a planned lawmaking it easier to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM).
Amid near-universal condemnation of the Christchurch MP from Tory colleagues after he once again used parliamentary tactics to delay a private members’ bill, Truss said she was “absolutely appalled” by Chope’s actions.
“I’m going to be speaking to him this week,” Truss told Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday show. “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.”
Asked how she would speak to him, Truss said: “I will be looking for him around the Commons. And I think Conservatives do need to put peer pressure on our colleagues who are stopping these types of things happening.”
She added: “When I see one of my colleagues opposing a measure that could have saved girls’ lives, could have saved girls from that horrendous experience, I am absolutely appalled by that.
Chope, who gained notoriety after heblocked a bill to make upskirting a criminal offence, used the same Commons procedure on Friday to block the bill tabled by fellow Conservative Zac Goldsmith, shouting “object!” when it was presented to for its second reading.
Such bills are read out at the end of business without debate, but pass to the next stage only if no MP present verbally objects. If they do, the bill has to be presented again for second reading, in this case on 15 March.
The government has since indicated it will find time from its own Commons timetable to get the bill passed.
The communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said Chope’s actions were “really shocking on such a serious issue.”
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “It is hugely disappointing that this bill is not able to proceed. That is why we are now looking urgently to get government time for legislation to make this happen. Obviously, Sir Christopher’s own association is investigating this. I think that’s the best place for this to be dealt with.”
Asked if he was proud Chope was a colleague, Brokenshire added: “Christopher feels a lot about the process issues, about how parliament operates. On this I hope even he will reflect. This is a hugely sensitive and serious issue and we need to make changes, and that’s what we’ll do.”
The FGM proposal, called the Children Act 1989 (amendment – female genital mutilation) bill, is intended to improve the 2003 law that prohibited the practice by allowing family courts to make interim care orders about children deemed at risk, simplifying the process.
Chope has argued that even if he backs the intent of such bills he objects to them because he does not support the procedural principle of legislation being passed without debate at second reading.
As Commons officials read out a series of bills on Friday afternoon, Chope and fellow backbencher Peter Bone objected to a series of them, including another proposed by Goldsmith, to help the finances of Kew Gardens.
Chope did not object to two private members’ bills proposed by Bone, although other MPs did.
After he was criticised by ministers including Truss and home secretary Sajid Javid, Chopetold the Telegraph: “It is a pity they are indulging in virtue-signalling rather than looking at the substance.”
He added: “My constituents know what I am doing. We are having letters saying, ‘What is parliamentary democracy all about?’ I object to bills going through un-debated at second reading.”