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

Early life

Christopher Chope was born in Putneymarker, the son of a judge, and was educated at the St Andrew's School in Eastbournemarker and Marlborough Collegemarker, before attending Queen's Collegemarker of the University of St Andrewsmarker 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 Templemarker in 1972 and was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Wandsworthmarker in 1974 and became the council leader in 1979; he left the council on his first election to Parliamentmarker in 1983. Chope 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

He was elected as an MP at the 1983 General Election for Southampton Itchenmarker where he defeated the SDP (and previously Labour) MP Bob Mitchell by 5,290 votes and became the first Tory MP for Southampton Itchen since the the war. Southampton Itchen was the constituency of the former Speaker of the House of Commons Horace King. Chope was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Peter Brooke, the Minister of State at the Treasurymarker 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 legislation. He was moved under the leadership of John Major to serve in the same rank at the Department of Transportmarker from 1990 until he lost his Southampton Itchen seat to John Denham at the 1992 General Election.

Out of Parliament, Christopher Chope took up a consultancy with Ernst & Young in 1992, but was re-elected at the 1997 General Election where he regained the Christchurch seat following its fall at the 1993 Christchurch by-election caused by the death of Robert Adley. He defeated the new Liberal Democrat MP Diana Maddock by 2,165 votes. He has remained the MP there since. After his re-election 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, he left the frontbench in 1997 when he became a member of the Trade and Industry Select Committee until after the 2001 General Election when he returned to the frontbench under Iain Duncan Smith as a spokesman on the Treasury, he moved to Transport in 2002 and again stood down from frontbench politics after the 2005 General Election. He currently serves on the Chairman's Panel.

Chope is 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.

Mr Chope claimed £136,992 in parliamentary expenses in 2007/2008. This included having a sofa from his second home in London recovered.

Personal life

He married Christine Mary Hutchinson in April 1987 in Poole and they a daughter called Antonia (born February 1990) and a son called Philip (born August 1992). A devout Christian, Chope has expressed views favouring capital punishment, although only in extreme circumstances, when the guilt of the accused is beyond all doubt.

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