ON reading of Sir Christopher Chope's latest escapade ("Tory MP Chope sparks new outrage by blocking bill to ban FMG", The Herald, February 9) that entailed the blocking of a bill that would make it easier to protect girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FMG), I was disappointed but not altogether surprised.

The MP for Christchurch sees his parliamentary role as acting as a sentinel to ensure that Private Members' bills are subject to detailed scrutiny, regardless of their content or overwhelmingly moral rectitude. In short, Sir Christopher is a pedant who rejoices in the procedures of Parliament for their own sake and carries out his self-appointed role impervious to criticism or to common sense.

Abuse of parliamentary procedure for self- aggrandisement or notoriety is not, of course, as Tom Jones would have said, unusual. What is more sinister and perturbing is that, at a time of great political instability, politicians like Sir Christopher can still influence legislation and events that affect vulnerable people's lives.

Blocking a bill on upskirting in 2018 has now been followed up by another controversial blocking of a bill, this time on FMG. However, these are not isolated cases. Sir Christopher seems determined to block any private member's bill that sponsors inclusiveness or equal rights in Britain. In the last six years he has obstructed or voted against Government bills on same-sex marriage, equal pay for women and, notably, objected to a pardon for World War Two code breaker, Alan Turing, on grounds of his homosexuality.

Sir Christopher cannot be simply dismissed as an aged, limelight-seeking buffoon who is obstreperous but ultimately harmless. In the UK Parliament, his dubious moral compass and fundamentalist views are more prevalent than many would believe, particularly, but not exclusively, on the Conservative backbenches.

Sir Christopher shares offensive ideological opinions with a disconcerting growing number of Tory MPs, such as the re-introduction of the death penalty and conscription, along with banning the burka in public places and climate change denial.

Make no mistake, this MP who steered through the poll tax in England under Mrs Thatcher and was vice-chairman of the party under William Hague, represents an unfettered and uncaring wing of the Conservative Party that Brexit has resurrected and reinvigorated.

Sir Christopher should not be regarded as part of a lunatic fringe. His antediluvian outlook and actions are fast becoming mainstreamed in the grass roots of the Conservative Party and, indeed, the Government.

Owen Kelly,

8 Dunvegan Drive,