GEOFFREY Clifton-Brown has defended his £2825 visit to China last month after receiving criticism about his trip from a national newspaper.
Earlier this month the Daily Mail reported that the Communist Party of China had funded a week-long trip by Mr Clifton Brown(60), commenting “It’s a hard life being an MP”.
Mr Clifton-Brown said his visit was made as part of his role as Chairman of the Conservative Party International Office, which is responsible for the Conservative Party's international profile and delivering its global democracy development programme abroad.
He claims his trip was a fact finding mission to discuss Sino-British relations and saw him meet various representatives of the Chinese Government to discuss opportunities for China and the UK to work together.
The MP for the Cotswold said: “You cannot just have MPs sitting down. They need to see what is going on in the rest of the world.
“I want to forge better relationships in terms of trade, cultural activity and education activity. I want to stress that whilst in China I also met with Professor Tiger Wang who is the Royal Agricultural Universities’ (RAU) representative in China.”
Geoffrey added that as part of his visit the met members of an environment think tank, China Telecom Corporation Limited and visited two major universities.
This is not the first time the MP has been funded to go on a international trip. In 2011 he was paid £3,500 by international aid charity Muslim Hands for a two-day visit to Sudan to observe the end of the referendum in the country and meet senior politicians and officials in the North and South.
The politician also defended going on a one-day shooting trip paid for by the British Association of Conservation and Shooting in December 2013 and then speaking against a proposed hike in firearm application fees in the House of Commons the following month.
Mr Clifton-Brown was among four Tory MPs who enjoyed slap-up meals and luxurious accommodation on the 2,500-acre Catton Hall estate in Derbyshire, at a cost of £800 each.
The old Etonian said there was no conflict of interest as the trip it was declared in the House of Commons Register of Members’ Interests in line with parliamentary rules.
“I did not do anything that was against the rules of the country or the House of Commons, he said.
“The rules are quite clear it is okay as long as it is declared and registered as an interest.
“The British Association for Shooting and Conservation was founded by a railway engineer, Stanley Duncan, from Hull in 1908 and as Chairman for the APPG for Shooting and Conservation, I can confidently state that shooting receives cross party support in the House of Commons and that the All-Party Group has Labour and Liberal Democrat members, as well as Conservative members.”