Tory veteran Sir Christopher Chope condemned by ministers over FGM Bill

Cabinet ministers have heaped further pressure on veteran Tory Sir Christopher Chope over his “unacceptable” decision to block child protection proposals linked to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled and will be “looking for him round the Commons”, while Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said Sir Christopher’s local Conservative association was investigating.

Sir Christopher objected to the legislation clearing its first Commons hurdle because it had not been debated.

Ms Truss said: “I was just absolutely appalled because we know there has only been one conviction against somebody for female genital mutilation.

“This is an action that harms the lives of girls, this is happening in our country in the 21st century.

“I find that appalling and we need to do much, much more to stop it, and 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.”

She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I will be looking for him round the Commons and I think Conservatives do need to put peer pressure on our colleagues who are stopping these types of things happening.”

Mr Brokenshire told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show Sir Christopher’s actions were “really shocking on such a serious issue”.

“It is hugely disappointing that this Bill is not able to proceed,” he said.

“That’s 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, but we are determined to take action to confront and combat FGM, that’s why we saw this legislation as really positive, had cross party support and why we’re determined to take further action.”

Christchurch MP Sir Christopher shouted “object” when the title of the backbench Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill was read out in the Commons on Friday, preventing its progress.

Chief Whip Julian Smith has said he is working to find a way to bring the legislation back to the Commons in government time, meaning it could not be so easily blocked.

Sir Christopher has accused his critics of “virtue signalling” and defended his actions, arguing they were aimed at ensuring proper parliamentary scrutiny.