MPs get all-clear on foreign paid trips

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The Independent Online
MPs are to be allowed to take paid trips abroad financed by foreign governments or other organisations in spite of the attempts to tighten the rules on members' interests.

The members' interests committee is expected to give MPs the all-clear to take paid trips abroad in advice to MPs which it is issuing to clarify the new rules brought in the wake of the Nolan Committee's report on standards in public life.

There would have been a revolt among MPs, if the committee had barred them from taking such foreign trips.

The MPs will be advised that they can take part in debates on issues in the countries they visit, but they will be told not to initiate the debates. It will come as a relief to many MPs who take foreign trips as the guests of foreign countries, although many are sponsored by international corporations.

Some MPs have referred foreign paid trips to the Parliamentary Commissioner on members' interests, Sir Gordon Downey, for advice on the code of conduct to follow, if they agree to such trips.

The commissioner was appointed as part of the attempts to end the public disquiet about "sleaze" after allegations that some MPs accepted payments for tabling questions in the House of Commons.