Sir Christopher Chope has sparked outrage for obstructing the legislation on Friday and his actions were described as “just appalling” by Tory MP Zac Goldsmith. The 71-year-old blocked the Bill which would allow courts to issue protection orders if a child is at risk of FGM from progressing through Parliament. It is the second time the veteran Conservative has prevented legislation from passing to the next stage, blocking the upskirting bill – since adopted as a Government Bill and expected to pass in the coming months – in June last year.
The Tory MP now faces fresh criticism by blocking the FGM proposal, tabled by crossbench peer Lord Berkely.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Outraged Chris Chope has blocked the FGM safeguarding Bill in Parliament today. His actions are wrong, pure & simple.”
Sir Christopher was able to block the Bill, which went through the House of Lords unopposed, by invoking an arcane House of Commons procedure.
The policy, means the Bill could only be passed to the next stage if no MP present verbally objects.
But Mr Chope shouted “object” when the Bill was presented to the Commons for its second reading, having already stalled it in November last year.
The Bill now has to be presented again for second reading on March 15.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “very disappointed”.
He wrote on Twitter: “FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice.”
Sir Christopher argues 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.
But Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow equalities minister, disagrees, saying: “It’s unacceptable that this dinosaur of a Tory MP consistently gets away with blocking new laws to protect the safety and rights of women.
“Christopher Chope is causing shame and embarrassment for the Tories but also for the country and it’s time for the Tories to show they really care about these issues by stripping him of the whip.”