- Christopher Chope and Philip Davies successfully blocked the bill which hopes to make upskirting an offence punishable by up to two years in prison.
- The bill is backed by both the government and opposition parties.
- Under archaic parliamentary rules, MPs can block backbench bills on Fridays if the debate extends beyond 2.30 pm.
- The two MPs have previously blocked laws designed to give free hospital parking to carers and to protect tenants from being unfairly evicted.
LONDON – A cross-party bill to make the taking of photos up women’s skirts a criminal offence has been blocked by two Conservative MPs.
The bill, which is backed by both the government and opposition parties, seeks to make upskirting a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.
However, two Tory MPs, Philip Davies and Christopher Chope, spent several hours on Friday speaking in the House of Commons in a successful attempt to talk out the bill.
Under archaic parliamentary rules, MPs are able to block bills brought forward by backbench MPs on Friday sessions if the debate extends beyond 2.30pm
Once the 2.30 deadline passed, MPs were asked whether they objected to the bill continuing its route through parliament after which Chope replied “object” thereby delaying its passage until July at the earliest.
Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who sponsored the bill, said on Friday that she was looking urgently at how to allow the bill to progress.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Both Chope and Davies have a long history of talking out backbench bills. In the past, they have talked out bills on everything from an attempt to give carers free hospital parking, to a bill designed to protect tenants from being unfairly evicted.
In an interview with Business Insider in 2016 Davies said that he was only doing his job by delaying such bills.
“That’s the method we have in the rules,” he said.
“I don’t set the rules but if you believe that a piece of legislation is bad and you want to block it then you’ve got to use the method that the rules allow to block it.”
Chope ‘loves the attention’
Davies and Chope were condemned by MPs from across the Commons, including by some of their Conservative colleagues.
“Do not underestimate just how furious many Tory MPs are about this. This kind of thing does far more damage to the public’s view of our party than endless debates about customs arrangements,” Paul Masterton MP tweeted.
Masterton was backed by fellow Conservative Tom Tugenhadt who called on Chope to apologise for his “shaming” actions.
The row reportedly spilled over into Conservative MPs’ private whatsapp groups where Chope was accused of risking marginal seats for the party by his behaviour.
“Can all of us – men and women – tell Chris how APPALLING the headline ‘Tory MP blocks ban on upskirting’ looks. And how damaging it is for colleagues in marginal seats,” George Freeman MP messaged other Tory MPs.
Former London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith agreed, replying: “He couldn’t give a toss. Loves the attention, which is why he keeps doing it. He blocked bills to pardon Alan Turing, prevent ‘revenge evictions’, ban wild animals in circuses, restrict hospital parking charges and much more besides.”
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