MP slammed for overseas trips

PUBLISHED: 12:16 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:14 25 August 2010

AN MP has come under fire for going on excessive parliamentary foreign trips during the summer recess.

AN MP has come under fire for going on "excessive" parliamentary foreign trips during the summer recess.

John Austin, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, featured in Channel Four's Dispatches programme investigating what members get up to over their 82-day holiday period.

As a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the MP flew to Jamaica and Tanzania during the summer break.

He told reporters in July that this summer he would concentrate on constituency business.

Bexley councillor John Davey said it was Erith and Thamesmead constituents who stand to suffer the most from what he called "excessive" absence due to foreign trips.

He claims to have a list of at least 70 flights abroad made by Mr Austin since 1997.

Mr Davey said: "He should be spending more time with his constituents. We don't understand why he needs to go abroad so often at tax payers' expense."

The Dispatches programme - MPs, Planes and Gravy Trains - looked at the frequent fliers and how open the trips are to public scrutiny.

Mr Davey added: "It is very difficult to get hold of the information about where MPs are flying to, when and who is paying for it."

Mr Austin, a member of the Commonwealth Public Bill Committee, said: "I do not believe anyone can reasonably say that I have neglected my constituents.

"I have been in Thamesmead with The Children's Commissioner for England, Trust Thamesmead and representatives of the Bexley Youth Council listening to young people.

"I took part in a panel discussion with the Police and local councillors with young people at the World of Hope in Abbey Wood discussing anti-social behaviour and crime."

The MP said he held eight surgeries and has one of the highest constituency case loads in Parliament.

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