The very worst legislation is that which sails through Parliament unopposed because all right thinking people support it. Politics is subject to the madness of crowds just as much as financial markets are after all – we’re describing something innate to humans, not to tulips or subprime mortgages.
Thus there’s a merit to opposing proposed laws that no one is opposed to and thus not thinking about. Which is just what Christopher Chope has done in his objection to the protection bill over female genital mutilation.
No, this isn’t because being opposed to such a protection bill means one is in favour of FGM – far from it. It’s because everyone is in favour that we need to examine so as to check that we’ve got the details of what to do right. We’re all, absolutely, against child abuse but that doesn’t mean we’ve got the current laws about safeguarding orders, criminal records checks and the sex offenders registry right after all.
So, yes, this is fair enough:
Tory MP Christopher Chope was facing a fresh wave of anger today after blocking legislation protecting girls from genital mutilation. The veteran Conservative shouted ‘object’ to prevent the progress of a Bill allowing the courts to issue protection orders if they think a child is at risk from FGM. It is the second time he has acted against the law – sparking howls of protest from fellow MPs.
Private member’s bills tend not to gain much debate. This is, possibly at least, an issue where there should be debate. Again, not over the whether, but the how.
Worth noting that if this really is important, if the House and government really do think that both something must be done and that this is what something is then there’s another solution to getting the law onto the books:
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he was ‘very disappointed’. ‘FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Super Sajid. You’re in the Cabinet, propose it there, make it a piece of government legislation. Then it can and will be properly debated and we can decide whether it should be part of the law or not.
Chope may or may not be arguing in this principled manner but it’s most certainly possible to do so. If it’s that important don’t have it as a Private Member’s Bill in the first place.