Christopher Chope

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Christopher Chope
Member of Parliament
for Christchurch
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Diana Maddock
Majority 15,410 (31.2%)
Member of Parliament
for Southampton Itchen
In office
9 June 1983 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Bob Mitchell
Succeeded by John Denham
Personal details
Born (1947-05-19) 19 May 1947 (age 67)
Putney, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Christine Mary Hutchinson
Children 2
Alma mater University of St Andrews

Christopher Robert Chope OBE (born 19 May 1947) is a British barrister and Conservative politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Christchurch.

Early life[edit]

Christopher Chope was born in Putney, in the London Borough of Wandsworth, the son of a judge, and was educated at the Independent St Andrew's School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, and Marlborough College, Wiltshire, before attending Queen's College of the University of St Andrews where he was awarded an LLB degree in 1970, and finished his education at the Inns of Court School of law. Chope was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1972.

Chope was elected as a councillor on the Wandsworth London Borough Council in 1974 and became the council leader in 1979; he left the council on his first election to Parliament in 1983. He was awarded the OBE for his services to local government in 1982. He was one of the pioneers in the selling off of council housing stock and aggressively reducing council spending, which earned him the sobriquet "Chopper" Chope.

Parliamentary career[edit]

He was elected as an MP at the 1983 general election for Southampton Itchen where he defeated the Social Democratic Party (and previously Labour) MP Bob Mitchell by 5,290 votes and became the first Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen since the constituency was created in 1950.

Chope was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Peter Brooke, the Minister of State at the Treasury in 1986, before being promoted by Margaret Thatcher to serve in her government as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment later in the same year, where he was responsible for steering through the poll tax, or "Community Charge", legislation. He was moved under the leadership of John Major to serve in the same rank at the Department of Transport from 1990 until he lost his Southampton Itchen seat to John Denham at the 1992 general election.

After his defeat, Chope took up a consultancy with Ernst & Young in 1992, but was re-elected at the 1997 general election for the Christchurch constituency. In 1997, he became a spokesman on the Environment, Transport and the Regions as well as being the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party under William Hague, but left the frontbench later that year when he became a member of the Trade and Industry Select Committee. He returned to the frontbench after the 2001 election as a spokesman on the Treasury. In 2002, he moved to Transport, then left frontbench politics after the 2005 general election. He currently serves on the Panel of Chairs.

Chope was chairman of the Thatcherite Conservative Way Forward group and used to be a barrister in the Chambers of Peter Rawlinson.

On 10 February 2009, he called for the minimum wage to be abolished. His Employment Opportunities Bill, which would, according to Chope, introduce more freedom to the job market and decrease unemployment, was backed by ten other Conservative MPs at the first reading, among them Edward Leigh, David Wilshire, Nigel Evans, Bill Cash and Peter Bone.

Later that year, in the expenses scandal, it emerged that Chope had claimed £136,992 in parliamentary expenses in 2007/08. This included claiming £881 to repair a sofa.[1]

On 12 March 2010, he was responsible for the blocking of a bill to protect the world's poorest countries from debt sharks use of "vulture funds", despite his party's support for the bill.[2]

In October 2010, Chope helped host a meeting of climate-science sceptics at Westminster.[3]

On 11 October 2011 Chope raised an eleventh hour objection to the Hillsborough debate taking place because he believed a debate about MP's pensions was more important. Cries of 'shame' echoed around the chamber and Labour MP Jamie Reed said that the perpetrator should be 'named and shamed' for raising the objection.[4]

Chope helped to lead the backbench support for the motion calling for a European Referendum. He has also been heavily involved in the use of Private Members Bills to achieve this aim.[5]

Chope came under fire in January 2013 for referring to some staff in the House of Commons as "servants". Parallels were drawn between this opinion and his views on the minimum wage.[6]

In June 2013 Chope was one of four MPs who camped outside Parliament in a move to facilitate parliamentary debate on what they called an "Alternative Queen’s Speech" -an attempt to show what a future Conservative government might deliver.[7] 42 policies were listed including reintroduction of the death penalty and conscription, privatizing the BBC, banning the burka in public places and preparation to leave the European Union.[7] The Daily Telegraph believes the whips sent Edward Leigh to try and persuade the group not to table the amendments.[7]

In December 2013 Chope objected[8][9] to the second reading of the Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill in the House of Commons. Because of this, the Government decided to act under the royal prerogative of mercy. On 24 December 2013 Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a free pardon.[10][11]

November 28th 2014 Chope, a private landlord, filibustered a Lib Dem bill with cross party support intended to make revenge evictions an offence. [12]

He came under criticism in late 2014 for repeatedly blocking a bill that would ban the use of wild animals in circus performances, justifying his actions by saying "The EU Membership Costs and Benefits bill should have been called by the clerk before the circuses bill, so I raised a point of order".[13]

Personal life[edit]

He married Christine Mary Hutchinson in April 1987 in Wimborne and they have a daughter called Antonia (born February 1990) and a son called Philip (born August 1992).


  1. ^ Hennessy, Patrick (24 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Tory Christopher Chope’s £881 bill for repairing sofa". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Nigel Morris, Andy McSmith and Kunal Dutta (13 March 2010). "Tory MP blocks bill targeting 'vulture funds'". London: The Independent. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Leo Hickman (26 October 2010). "Cabal of climate sceptics to descend on UK Parliament". London: The Guardian. 
  4. ^ "Hillsborough debate delay criticised by Andy Burnham". BBC News (BBC). 12 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "The 'real Tory Queen's Speech': Rebel MPs table Bills including EU exit and national service". Daily Mail (London). 5 July 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c Robert Watts (20 Jun 2013). "Conservative MPs launch attempt to bring back death penalty, privatise the BBC and ban burka". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 Jun 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Scott Roberts (2 December 2013). "Lib Dem MP John Leech disappointed at delay to Alan Turing pardon bill". Pink News. 
  10. ^ Oliver Wright (23 December 2013). "Alan Turing gets his royal pardon for 'gross indecency' – 61 years after he poisoned himself". The Independent. 
  11. ^ "(Archived copy of) Royal Pardon for Alan Turing". 
  12. ^
  13. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bob Mitchell
Member of Parliament for Southampton Itchen
Succeeded by
John Denham
Preceded by
Diana Maddock
Member of Parliament for Christchurch