Rotherham’s MPs clock up £20,000 worth of overseas trips

Rotherham’s MPs clock up £20,000 worth of overseas trips

By Gareth Dennison | 26/10/2018

Rotherham’s MPs clock up £20,000 worth of overseas trips
L-R: MPs Kevin Barron, Sarah Champion and John Healey

ROTHERHAM’S jet-setting MPs clocked up overseas trips worth more than £20,000 last year.

The expeditions, which were paid for by their hosts and linked to parliamentary business, involved flying out to such far-flung places as Borneo, Taiwan and Germany.

Parliamentary records reveal details of overseas visits taken by Commons members and related costs in the years before and after the 2017 general election.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion’s official visits to Hong Kong, Taiwan and India since the election placed her eighth in the overall cost list - the only Labour MP in the top ten.

Her visit to Korea cost £8,034, a trip to Taiwan came in at £5,282 and an Indian expedition clocked up a £3,239 bill.

Ms Champion said: “Each trip I took last year was an official visit to meet parliamentarians of the host country.

“I did not take the trips while Parliament was sitting and I did not financially benefit in any way.”

The visit to India last November was said to be aimed at developing an understanding of trade and educational opportunities between Britain and India.
In April, the MP flew to Hong Kong as a guest of the country’s economic and trade office to build her understanding of Hong Kong’s political, social and economic development and “support bilateral relationship and business development”.

The £5,975.40 air fare, £1,792.50 in hotel costs and expenses and local transportation plus food rated at £265.62 brought the total to £8,033.52.

Stand Up Against Sex-Trafficking of Minors invited Ms Champion to Seoul in Korea to speak at the first international conference on child sexual exploitation and give lectures to ministers, civil servants and interest groups on the topic of child protection.

The trip in August cost £2,958.

Last year, Ms Champion visited Jerusalem and the West Bank on a four-day fact-finding mission, while she spent a week in Taiwan in summer 2017 as part of an all-party parliamentary delegation to discuss political, trade and cultural links between the UK and Taiwan.

Rother Valley MP Sir Kevin Barron went event further afield last February, jetting out to Borneo as a guest of Sigma Pharmaceuticals to speak to a two-day conference as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy \_- a trip valued at £2,820.

In April last year, he went to the theatre and stayed in a hotel on a £600 visit paid for by Durham firm Hargreaves Services.

The MPs’ register of financial interests also showed he was invited by the Football Foundation to Wembley Stadium in March and saw England and Italy draw 1-1.

Sir Kevin said of the Borneo trip: “The cost was covered solely by the organiser and declared as required.”

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey’s sole overseas trip in the past year was just a month ago, when he flew to Berlin.

The £1,680 trip saw him travelling with a colleague to discuss housing policy with German politicians and experts, and included flights valued at £560, dinner, lunch and catering rated at £480 and a £440 administration cost.
The costs included the catering for others at a lunchtime roundtable meeting.

Mr Healey said: “I lead for Labour on housing as shadow secretary of state, and this was a visit to look at how Germany makes private renting a much more reliable and affordable housing choice than Britain. 

“It was organised by a publicly-funded German policy body, which exists solely to improve German-UK relationships and policy ideas. 

“The visit helped inform Labour’s plans to give renters much stronger rights, including controls on rents and more stable tenancies.”

Mr Healey’s declared financial interests also include political donations totalling £11,420, including from several major trade unions.

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