UK & World News
Foreign Freebies: MPs Criticised Over Trips
MPs have been criticised for making hundreds of "freebie" overseas visits to exotic locations worth £1.5m in the last two years.
Foreign governments, pressure groups and private companies funded the variety of excursions for backbenchers.
The Independent newspaper found a number of MPs had accepted trips abroad and then made supportive speeches about the countries in Parliament.
Around 242 MPs declared "fact-finding missions" - with visits worth £6,500 on average.
The anger over MP Nadine Dorries' decision to take a month off to take part in I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! has once again put the focus on ministers taking time out from Parliament.
One in five Conservative backbenchers were taken on trips to Israel and Palestine, mainly on visits paid for by pro-Israeli lobbying groups.
Former foreign secretary David Miliband was one of the highest-claiming MPs, taking 14 overseas trips costing £47,600 since losing out on the Labour leadership to his brother Ed, it was reported.
While 36 visits were made to China and Hong Kong, 23 trips to India and 34 to the US only one MP accepted a trip to Afghanistan.
Two were recorded visiting Belgium.
Tamasin Cave of the transparency group Spinwatch, told The Independent: "MPs do need knowledge of other countries but the list of states that feel the need to court politicians includes many with dubious reputations. This is not a new game.
"London-based PR firms have for years laundered the reputations of countries with dreadful human rights records, but MPs should not be drawn into this.
"Let's hope they spend as much time talking to pro-democracy and opposition groups from those countries."