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.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
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
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little