Wera Hobhouse slams lone Tory MP for pointlessly sabotaging “upskirting” bill

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse has slammed an ‘out of touch’ Tory for sabotaging her Bill to make upskirting a specific sexual offence today.

Having secured the Government’s support for her Bill to make upskirting a specific offence, it was expected to pass through the House of Commons today. The Bill comes off the back of Gina Martin’s campaign, which she started after falling victim to the crime last summer.

However, in a shocking move Tory MP Christopher Chope, known for objecting to the second reading of the Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill, defied the Government and Number 10 by opposing the Bill, preventing it from proceeding to the next stage.

Speaking afterwards, Wera said:

Gina, her lawyer Ryan Whelan, and myself have worked with the Minister on this and we know how deeply she cares about this issue. We will therefore be making urgent arrangements to meet with her and plan the route forward.

Upskirting is a depraved violation of privacy. It is outrageous that a single Member of Parliament has today been able to derail a much needed and universally supported change in the law.

This change would have protected women and girls across England and Wales and given the police the tools to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is too important to allow people like Christopher Chope to obstruct progress on this vital issue.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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14 Comments

  • Yeovil Yokel 15th Jun '18 - 7:49pm

    There is something very wrong with a parliamentary system which allows a widely-supported private MP’s Bill to be wrecked by a single MP being able to call out “Object” without even having to give a reason.

  • David Becket 15th Jun '18 - 8:37pm

    That is not all that is wrong with this outdated system that is not fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

  • nigel hunter 15th Jun '18 - 9:21pm

    Chope MP for 20 years.
    Exreme right winger.
    Objects to everything he does not like
    Undemocratic, dictatorial MP.
    ‘In charge’ (of constituency) for too long.
    Ancient. Set in his ways.
    Unable to debate therefore arrogant.
    Knows how to control,therefore, an out of date system that is past its sell by date.
    He should retire, with the Tory party.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jun '18 - 11:21pm

    I hope he is widely ridiculed. He should at least be required to give his reason/s. The Procedure Committee may have work to do.
    Something similar happened to the bill to reduce the voting age to 16.

  • Laurence Cox 15th Jun '18 - 11:38pm

    Time to put Theresa May on the spot by asking her formally to take over the Bill as a Government Bill. At the very least the Government’s business managers should find more time for it (and lock Chope in the Tower while it is debated).

  • Matt (bristol) 16th Jun '18 - 12:04am

    What frustrates me is that some people are buying his line that it is a ‘principled’ position he is taking against bills not being sufficiently debated. To which the solution is for the government to give up more time to non-government bills, and allow for the most popular bills to go through, not just those that get pulled out of a ballot…

    Finally, though, people are starting to realise how much disproportionate power our government has to control and block legislation based on influence, time-table manipulation, and sheer tribalism. More than in many European countries.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '18 - 9:02am
  • Richard Underhill 16th Jun '18 - 11:24am
  • Steve Trevethan 16th Jun '18 - 11:32am

    “Never let compassion get in the way of a good self-publicity stunt!”

  • Richard Underhill 16th Jun '18 - 11:36am

    Earlier in the day, when another Tory MP was speaking at length about police body cameras, Chope seemed to be the only other MP on the government benches, expressing very little interest in the proceedings.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Jun '18 - 10:38am

    The PM was on the Andrew Marr show today 17/6/2018. He asked her about Chope and up-skirting. She said that the bill will be incorporated into government business in government time, which is a satisfactory assurance because the PM was in favour of legislation before Chope’s eccentric veto was cast. Who does he think he is? Is he in favour of up-skirting? Does he think it is a joke akin to the use of a shiny toe-cap in a Carry On film to a Scots soldier in a kilt? Does he intend to vote against the government when the bill comes forward? What will be the consequences if he does?
    Andrew Marr asked the PM about why she gave Chope a knighthood. She said he had been an MP for a very long time. There are other MPs who do not have a knighthood, for instance Kenneth Harry Clarke CH QC, the Father of the House has longer service.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Jun '18 - 1:07pm

    The government has repeated the PM’s promise to implement the bill in government time, which is welcome.
    Mr. Chope’s office has been decorated, according to a photograph on today’s Daily Politics, 18/6/2018, about 20 minutes in. We were not told who had provided the decorations, nor whether anyone had circulated photos on social media.

  • Apparently Chope’s point was not that he disagrees with the content of the bill (who could?) but that he disagreed with it being a Private Member’s Bill; he thought it should be introduced as a proper government bill, and that was why he objected.

    Were it to come back as a government bill, he would probably vote for it.

    Which seems fair enough.

  • His objection seems to be to bills going through “on the nod” and if the BBC is to be believed he (and a group of others) are apparently relatively consistent about objecting and making them go through normal procedures to pass a bill.

    There are ways to engage with that (e.g. to point out that this particular law has already been sufficiently debated outside parliament, that any MP who opposes a given law could come and object in the same way anyway – the absence of such an MP implies any debate would be one-sided, to suggest that such laws be given time to be debated in Westminister Hall or instead of some of the pointless ministers questions).

    But if we aren’t willing to engage with his actual objections and instead wish to paint him as pro-upskirting, then we aren’t engaging with him, the people who agree with his actual reasons become lost to us and we are just playing to our own gallery in the American style. If you want to carry on like that then don’t be surprised if UK politics and society becomes as polarised as US politics an d society.

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