Politics: Irvine's pounds 13,000 trip to the Caribbean

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The Independent Online
The Lord Chancellor took his wife on a trip to Trinidad and Tobago which left the taxpayer with a bill of pounds 13,000, his department confirmed last night.

Lord Irvine of Lairg, his wife, Lady Irvine, and a private secretary travelled last week for the eight-day Conference of Commonwealth Speakers. The total cost of the trip to public funds was pounds 13,487.

A spokesman said he was travelling in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Lords rather than Lord Chancellor and had not broken any rules governing the use of Lords funds. Lord Irvine signed an agreement with Trinidad on confiscation of criminal assets, held talks with the country's Prime Minister and delivered a legal speech.

The spokesman said his accommodation cost pounds 250 a night, which would have been the same if he had been on his own, and he and his wife flew business class. The spokesman said: "He was invited to this event, which is for speakers from the Commonwealth countries, and it is quite normal for spouses to attend. The expenditure was perfectly acceptable under the House of Lords rules."

Lord Irvine previously hit the headlines over the cost of refurbishment of his official residence in the Palace of Westminster.

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