Chairman of Gibraltar Group in UK Parliament accused of breaches of parliamentary rules over Gibraltar visits, says BBC investigation

Hundreds of breaches of parliamentary rules by MPs who accepted free overseas trips from foreign governments have been uncovered by a BBC investigation.

More than 20 MPs broke rules on declaring hospitality in questions or debates after visiting locations such as Gibraltar.

Some MPs dismissed the breaches as technical errors or oversights.

However, the former Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham, told the BBC repeated rule breaches threatened to "undermine the integrity" of the democratic system."

DECLARING FOREIGN TRIPS

The report on the BBC adds that any MP who has an overseas trip paid for by a foreign government must register it within four weeks.

They must declare a financial interest if it "might reasonably be thought by others to influence the speech, representation or communication in question"

This includes when tabling questions, motions, bills or amendments, and when speaking out during Commons proceedings

The investigation says: During the current Parliament, Gibraltar's government has funded 31 trips for MPs to attend an annual street party on the territory.

Labour's Lindsay Hoyle has been a guest at these National Day Celebrations three times. Following his visits he has asked 30 questions, tabled three early day motions and signed a further seven, all without declaring his interest.

Also highlighted by the BBC is Conservative Andrew Rosindell who has been a guest of Gibraltar's government twice in recent years. He subsequently asked 48 questions and signed or sponsored nine motions related to the territory without declaring an interest.

Thirteen of his questions about Gibraltar were before a visit had been registered. The BBC put the matters to Mr Rosindell but has yet to receive a response.

The BBC says it has identified a further 10 MPs from all three major parties who have been guests of Gibraltar's government and shortly afterwards breached rules when signing motions or tabling questions about the territory.

25-03-10



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