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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links