Tory MP ‘sank to new depths’ as he blocked plans to tackle FGM

The Government has come under fire for allowing a Tory MP to block plans to tackle female genital mutilation.

MPs from all parties attacked the Government for not taking the Bill on itself but leaving it vulnerable to being shouted down as a Private Member’s Bill – which happened as expected when Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope (pictured) shouted “object” on Friday.

Sir Christopher (Christchurch) said he had objected because he felt the proposals had not been properly debated.

Labour’s shadow equalities minister Carolyn Harris blasted Sir Christopher, the MP for Christchurch, calling his objection to the FGM Bill “shocking”.

She said his “reputation for objecting to important bills precedes him”, after he was involved in a similar controversy last year after objecting to a bill outlawing upskirting.

Ms Harris said she would only refer to him as “gentleman” and not “honourable gentleman” as is convention in the Commons, explaining: “Honourable implies principle, and the member for Christchurch displayed no such principle last Friday in this chamber.

“His objection to the FGM bill sank to new depths.”

The Labour frontbencher also attacked the Government, saying: “But this bill should never have been left to be dealt with through a Private Member’s Bill.

“The bill will protect countless women and girls and delay in its passage puts them at unnecessary risk.

“The Government should have introduced this long before now, as relying on a Private Member’s Bill, when we know there has been many an occasions when worthy bills have been ‘talked out’ or objected to, was a risky strategy.

“We cannot now leave this bill on the sidelines.

“If the member has done nothing else, his antiquated and appalling behaviour last Friday has exposed the importance of this bill.”

Ms Harris called on the Government to bring it back to the Commons as soon as possible, so “we can pass this vital legislation”.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer announced the Government will now revive the child protection proposals linked to preventing (FGM) by bringing it back in Government time “very swiftly”.

She said it was “disappointing” that her colleague had chosen to object, as she answered an Urgent Question on the matter from Wera Hobhouse, the Lib Dem MP for Bath who had brought forward the legislation as a Private Member’s Bill.

Other Conservative MPs agreed, including Richard Benyon (Newbury) who said he “echoed the dismay of all members”.

He added: “Many of us are just fed up with this kind of behaviour, we want a different system where this sort of thing just doesn’t happen.”

Conservative MP Philip Hollobone (Kettering) said the Government only had to make “a little change” but had instead “relied upon a private member’s bill” (PMB).

He said: “It’s completely inappropriate for Her Majesty’s Government for this important amendment to rely upon a PMB.

“They now say they’re going to allocate government time, well about time too. They should have done that in the first place.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) UK Parliament.