The perks of being a politician with a passport

Whale-watching. Rocket launches. Caribbean islands. Being an MP can come with a round-the-world ticket

To add to its creche, subsidised bars and restaurants, and substantial library, the Palace of Westminster would make good use of an adventure travel agency, so overwhelming is the apparent wanderlust of its more intrepid members.

Israel and the West Bank might be the go-to destination for the less  imaginative MP, but for some, a seat on those green benches comes with a round-the-world ticket.

For sheer air miles, Labour’s Barry Gardiner is hard to top, having travelled, since 2010, to Berlin, Cape Town, Jakarta, Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Warsaw, Rio de Janeiro again, Washington, New York, Mexico City, Japan, China, and a second visit to Cape Town. But the member for Brent North is Ed Miliband’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, and all of these commitments have been to attend the conferences of Globe International, a panel of politicians from around the world who regularly jet in to various exciting locations to discuss the threats facing the environment. No jokes about hot air, please. Mr Gardiner was unavailable for comment.

The world’s beauty spots are popular destinations for discussions on matters of climate change. In May this year Labour’s shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy went to Norway to discuss the issue, before jetting off to Australia a few weeks later as part of a delegation to meet with defence contractors.

Meanwhile, others have been having rather more fun. Fancy a trip to French Guiana, up on the Atlantic coast of South America, to see a rocket launch? The Conservatives Dr Phillip Lee and Charlotte Leslie and Labour’s Pamela Nash were the members of the Parliamentary Space Committee fortunate enough to be invited to the tiny French overseas region, to witness the launch of the HYLAS-1 space satellite at the Guyana Space Centre at Kourou.

“It’s not something I’ll ever forget. It was the noise – you could feel it,” Dr Lee told The Independent. The costs of around £4,500 per person were paid by Astrium, the subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company involved in making the British-built satellite.

In July this year, the pilot whale population of the Bay of Biscay enjoyed a treat when Labour’s Kerry McCarthy and Huw-Irranca Davies, who brought his wife, were ferried out to see them on a two-day trip from Plymouth to Santander, at a cost of around £1,500, paid for by Brittany Ferries at the behest of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.Labour’s Emma Reynolds, meanwhile, can be persuaded to hop on a plane.

Her entry on the Register of Members’ Interests features regular trips to Rome as a guest of the Democratic Party of Italy, as well as trips to Sao Paolo, Korea, Krakow, Tbilisi, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, visits that were, she said, “undertaken in my role as Foreign Office spokeswoman for the Labour Party”. She also spent three weeks volunteering in Nepal during the summer recess, as a guest of the development charity Voluntary Service Overseas, where she blogged about the difficulties of keeping Nepalese girls in school.

Among the burdensome tasks that face the east London Conservative Andrew Rosindell in his role as chair of the Overseas Territories All-Party Parliamentary Group, and as vice-chair of the Cayman Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, have been week-long sojourns in Grand Cayman and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The latter was to “conduct a report of the social, economic and constitutional problems facing the Turks and Caicos”. The cost of the trip for Mr Rosindell and a member of his staff was split between the Claymore Group, an “offshore financial services group” based in the country, the Caribbean Council and Virgin Airlines.

It’s not all glamour. Labour’s Rosie Cooper spent three nights in Copenhagen in April this year to address the Global Forum on Incontinence, travelling as a guest of the bathroom products manufacturer SCA Hygiene. Keith Vaz flew business class to Atlanta to address the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, at an estimated cost of nearly £5,000.

There is no suggestion that the nation’s lawmakers shouldn’t be travelling abroad. Mr Rosindell said his report from Turks and Caicos “led to government intervention to rescue this British territory”.

The whale watcher Huw Irranca-Davies is profoundly interested in matters affecting cetaceans, particularly now that vast wind farms are being built in their natural habitat. Kerry McCarthy has taken an interest in marine issues and said that the two-day trip “included expert briefings on cetaceans, declining numbers [and] threats to their survival”.

Dr Phillip Lee has also campaigned on behalf of the British aerospace industry, and has lobbied the Government to fund British astronauts in space.

And, given the sheer number of foreign politicians who beset their small country, Israel, that cricketing powerhouse, was no doubt glad to welcome the touring Lords and Commons Cricket Club last month. The MPs Nigel Adams, Bob Blackman, Crispin Blunt, Richard Graham, Graham Jones, Mark Lancaster, Karl McCartney, James Morris and Guy Opperman even brought actual cricketer John Emburey with them.

The brainchild of the team captain Adams, the “extremely successful trip”, we are told, “offered a completely different way of introducing parliamentarians to Israel, combining an original mix of cricket and political fact-finding”.

Important work no doubt, and nice if you can get it.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Defendant Personal Injury 2+PQE

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - NICHE DEFENDANT FIRM - Defendant Pe...

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on