Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Gibraltar's National Day junket featured in UK press

Gibraltar is listed as a favourite destination for political junket in the weekend UK press which looks at the excursions by MP’s over the summer months into exotic destinations.

Under the heading “MP’s Lap Up Free Jaunts,” The Sun newspaper reveals that up to 70 MP’s “are soaking up the sun on [expenses-paid] exotic overseas freebies.”

Other destinations include Guyana, Fiji, the Caribbean, South America and Gabon. The House of Commons does not sit during the summer recess.

Meanwhile according to the Sunday Times, “a two day visit to Gibraltar is scheduled
in September when a group of MP’s will be the guests of the [Gibraltar] Government.” This refers to the visit by members of the House of Commons All Gibraltar Group to the National Day celebrations on the Rock.

According to The Sunday Times, one former MP has criticised some of the trips as “freebies of little or no value,” while ex-Labour MP Helen Clark said:

“These are just holidays with a bit of politics thrown in.”

The Sun adds:

“Ten MP’s from the Commons Rail Group will trek through Europe first class in their 80 day summer break. Group chairman Lord Berkeley said: There is a purpose – to look at the changing face of European rail freight.

For those unfamiliar with the term, junket means “an excursion for an official paid for by public funds.”

Parliamentary Groups

Parliamentary groups in the House of Commons come in all shapes and sizes.

The All-Party Gibraltar Group set up to “promote and look after the interests of Gibraltar,” is one of over a hundred All-Party Groups that express similar sentiments and cover most countries and geographical areas in the planet.

These include remote ones like the island of St Helena, the South Pacific, South Caucasus, and others nearby like Morocco and EU member states such as Spain. In the latter case the objective of the parliamentary group is to “promote good relations between the parliaments and people of the UK and Spain.”

Additionally there are a few hundred other All-Party groups divided into virtually every special interest groups that can be conceived, for example there are All-Party Groups in subjects as diverse as Scotch whisky, beer group, cider group, caravanning, chocolate and confectionery, football, fireworks, tunnels, sewers and youth hostelling.

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