Which of the region’s MPs accepted free trips abroad?
PUBLISHED: 10:52 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:25 19 October 2018
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Four of the region’s MPs have accepted all-expenses paid trips abroad since the 2017 election.
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon had the most spent on him with three trips to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iran costing a total of £11,372.
Broadland MP Keith Simpson went on one trip to Saudi Arabia costing £7,802, Norwich South MP Clive Lewis visited Israel and the Palestinian territories at a cost of £2,993 and Mid-Norfolk’s George Freeman visited Lebanon twice costing £1,967.
All the trips are described as “fact-finding missions” and there was no expense to the British taxpayer.
Trips abroad are common for MPs. In the last two years more than £2 million has been spent on 340 MPs who clocked up 810 visits in total.
Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Hong Kong were the countries who spent the most flying British MPs out on visits.
But links to the Saudi regime have come under fresh scrutiny in recent weeks since the disappearance – and suspected murder – of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is believed Mr Khashoggi – a critic of the regime – was killed while visiting the consulate in Istanbul.
Mr Simpson called the incident a “horror show” that had damaged the “Saudi regime” but defended his trip as a useful exercise.
He said: “I got an invitation from the Conservative Middle East Council. I very rarely go on these trips and because it was over half-term and I hadn’t been to Saudi for more than 10 years I thought I might do it.
“One had been hearing about all the changes and I thought I’d be rather fascinated to see and hear what is going. In the 10 years since I had visited there had been considerable change. The minsters and others we were seeing were a good 10 or 15 years younger than they were before and we met officials who were both men and women.
“I was fascinated to think how it would continue to change. And I put it to several leading Saudis that history tells us that a very autocratic regime, once it starts to reform is in a very dangerous position.
“I have no other interest in Saudi Arabia – I haven’t asked any questions about the country in the House. It is not my job to defend them.
“There was no working time lost, no cost to the taxpayer. There are MPs that go on what I would call ‘freebies’ which are a chance to wine and dine exceptionally well but there was not very much of that on our trip.”