All the bills blocked by Tory MP Christopher Chope, from upskirting and FGM to sleaze U-turn

by 24britishtvNov. 16, 2021, 3 p.m. 20
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Conservative MP Christopher Chope last night blocked a Commons motion to reverse the controversial changes to Parliament’s standards process and approve the findings against Owen Paterson – who resigned from Parliament last month.

The objection by the Christchurch MP meant the motion could not be approved and will be subject to a debate and full Commons vote, which is scheduled to take place today.

Today’s debate will allow opposition MPs to once again lay into the Government’s handling of the Paterson scandal and criticise the Conservative Party over allegations of sleaze.

Mr Chope was a lone dissenter againt the motion, and is thought to have stopped the U-turn from being passed through as he wanted time to be allocated for a debate on the issue.

The backbench MP isn’t a stranger to fillibustering, a political move to force a debate over a proposed piece of legislation to delay or prevent a decision being made, having blocked a number of bills in the past.

Mr Chope has made a name for himself by frequently blocking bills, particularly ones that have received widespread public support such as a ban on upskirting, a posthumous pardon for World War Two code-breaking Alan Turing and a debate on the Hillsborough disaster.

What other bills has Mr Chope blocked?

Mr Chope blocked a bill to make it easier to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM).

The FGM proposal, called the Children Act 1989 (amendment – female genital mutilation) bill, was intended to improve the 2003 law that prohibited the practice by enabling family courts to make interim care orders about children deemed at risk, simplifying the process.

But the MP shouted “object!” when the bill was presented to the Commons for its second reading.

Under Commons procedure, a series of such bills are read out at the end of business without debate, and pass to the next stage only if no MP present verbally objects. If anyone objects, the bill has to be presented again for second reading.

The amendment later received Royal Assent, thereby making it an official Act of Parliament, on 15 March, 2019.

A private members’ bill to make upskirting a specific crime, punishable by up to two years in prison, was blocked by Mr Chope in 2018.

The MP shouted “object” to force a second reading, despite the bill receiving the government’s backing.

The bill was eventually passed and taking photographs up a woman’s skirt was made an offence under the Voyeurism Act. It came into force from 12 April, 2019.

Just weeks after he achieved notoriety for blocking the upskirting bill, Mr Chope objected to a motion to allow a global women’s conference to be held in the Commons.

Then prime minister Theresa May immedietely resubmitted the motion on the event for the next day, which was passed.

The MP “talked out” a Government-backed effort to ban tenants from being evicted for complaining about poor housing.

He spoke for 90 minutes and meant the House ran out of time to vote on the bill.

In 2015 a law was passed to prevent tenants from being evicted after raising a complaint.

The Wild Animals in Circuses bill was blocked at the second reading stage by Mr Chope.

The bill kept repeatedly being blocked by a trio of Tory backbenchers, which also included Andrew Rosindell and Philip Davies.

The use of wild animals in circuses was eventually banned in a 2019 Act, which came into effect from January 2020.

In 1952, world acclaimed code-breaker Alan Turing was charged with homosexual offences. He took his own life two years later.

In 2013 the House moved to pardon the Enigma code-breaker for his conviction for being gay but Mr Chope objected to the second reading.

Mr Chope delayed a debate on the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy that led to the deaths of 96 football fans.

The backbencher achieved this by questioning a time limit on the preceding debate on MPs pensions.
• Making it an offence to attack police dogs or horses, or prison officer dogs
• Enable families of missing people to manage their loved one’s affairs

Why does he do it?

The backbench MP has frequently cited the lack of debate and scrutiny as reasons for not letting laws pass.

He 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.

Mr Chope also claims to be heavily opposed to private members’ bills.

After the furore following his move to block the upskirting bill, Mr Chope told the Bournemouth Echo: “The government has been hijacking time that is rightfully that of backbenchers. This is about who controls the House of Commons on Fridays and that’s where I am coming from.”

He added that: “The government is abusing parliamentary time for its own ends and in a democracy this is not acceptable. The government cannot just bring in what it wants on the nod. We don’t quite live in the Putin era yet.”

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