Outrage at Tory MP for blocking FGM child protection plan

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A senior Tory has been condemned by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Home Secretary Sajid Javid after he blocked child protection proposals linked to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Veteran MP Sir Christopher Chope shouted “object” when the title of the Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill was read out in the Commons.

Mr Hancock said he was “outraged” by Sir Christopher’s actions, saying they were “wrong, pure and simple”.

Mr Javid said he was “very disappointed”, adding that FGM is child abuse.

Sir Christopher defended his actions and accused his critics of “virtue signalling”.

Tory Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park), who sponsored the backbench bill, said Sir Christopher had been “begged” by FGM campaigners not to block the proposal at second reading.

After the draft legislation was blocked, Mr Goldsmith added: “As anticipated, Chope objected to the FGM Bill. Just appalling.”

Zac Goldsmith hit out at Sir Christopher Chope for blocking his Bill (John Stillwell/PA)
Zac Goldsmith hit out at Sir Christopher Chope for blocking his Bill (John Stillwell/PA)

“It’s time he considered his position and frankly buggered off,” Mr Hoare said.

The Bill seeks to allow courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act 1989 in cases relating to FGM.

Such an order could be made if a court was satisfied there were reasonable grounds for believing the child is suffering – or likely to suffer – significant harm.

A local authority would have shared parental responsibility for the child until a final hearing.

The Bill has previously cleared the House of Lords.

Former minister Sir Christopher is known for objecting in principle to bills getting rubber-stamped on Friday sessions, arguing they should be subject to detailed scrutiny.

He has previously come under fire for objecting to a backbench Bill to make upskirting a criminal offence.

Sir Christopher told the Daily Telegraph he objected to legislation going through without a debate.

Responding to the criticism he faced, he said: “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 undebated at second reading.”

“People are muddling up the substance of the matter. You could virtue signal. We could do all of our law by emotion rather than by debate.”

But Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss, who branded his actions a “complete disgrace” said: “Can I encourage more colleagues to do some ‘virtue-signalling’ so we can legislate and deal with this vile practice.”

Private members’ bills (PMBs) are considered on Friday sittings, which run until 2.30pm.

Any PMBs listed for second reading but not debated can be blocked if just one MP shouts “object” when the title is read out.

Tory and Labour MPs also blocked other bills after they were read out in the chamber.

Labour called for Sir Christopher to lose the Tory whip.

Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler said: “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.

“This makes it even more shocking that he was given a knighthood by Theresa May last year.”

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