Tory MPs back Blair over trip Concorde

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Indy Politics
A committee composed entirely of Conservative MPs has failed to uphold a complaint against Tony Blair that he should have registered an expenses-paid Concorde trip to the US in 1986, according to a copy of its report seen by the Independent.

David Shaw, Tory MP for Dover, complained to the Members' Interests Select Committee that Mr Blair's visit broke the rules, and several Tory newspapers have reported that the committee censured the Labour leader, in a report agreed two weeks ago but not yet published.

But the Conservatives on the committee - the Labour members walked out in a row over the refusal to investigate allegations against a former minister, Neil Hamilton - in fact described Mr Blair's omission to register as "regrettable but not worthy of censure". The report says: "We think it entirely reasonable for Mr Blair to have regarded his visit to Washington as 'quasi- official' ... We have no doubt that the Government both encouraged and facilitated the work of the delegation."

Under the headline "Blair's reprimand over Concorde trip", the Mail on Sunday reported that the Members' Interests Committee had decided that the Labour leader had broken the rules on declaring perks.

Mr Blair visited Washington when he was a junior Treasury spokesman, as one of an all- party trip to lobby against the state of California's double taxation of British companies.