Jersey politicians accused as 'tone-deaf' after £35,000 of taxpayers' money spent on foreign trips

  • ITV Channel reporter Emma Volney takes a closer look at the figures

More than £35,000 was spent on the hotel and travel expenses of Jersey politicians attending Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) events abroad in 2023.

An ITV News Freedom of Information request has revealed there were six CPA trips during the year, totalling £35,019.76.

The most expensive was the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Ghana which three politicians and the States Greffier attended, costing nearly £12,000.

Other travel included the 52nd British Islands and Mediterranean Regional Conference in London, an "advanced professional development and skills-building residency programme" in Canada, and a workshop entitled "Strengthening Parliament Action to Address Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in Supply Chains" in Kenya.

The £35,000 bill also included around £8,000 on a "bespoke programme of events in Westminster created by the CPA UK" for 11 Jersey politicians, mostly backbenchers, from 16 to 19 May 2023.

This involved a visit to a constituency office in London, a session led by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, a chance to meet the General Secretary of the CPA and to attend Prime Minister's Questions.

Some feel the travel is hypocritical given the Government's push for islanders to reduce their carbon footprints.

Climate campaigner Nigel Jones said: "It seems crass and tone-deaf of the people in high office to be wasting emissions like that."

ITV News has learnt further trips for 2024 include a conference on the small island of Saint Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The trips included an "advanced professional development and skills-building residency programme" in Canada. Credit: ITV Channel

Politicians are split over the issue and where to draw the line.

Deputy Max Andrews said: "I think it should only be for senior politicians so that is politicians in the executive, but I think for backbenchers there isn't really any reason to go away because we have a duty to serve our constituents and that means we've got to be based in the island full-time."

However, Guernsey Deputy John Gollop has defended the spending.

He explained: "Guernsey and Jersey are not Basingstoke or Wakefield or places in England and I think every time the Channel Islands sends people to important conferences, it's usually money well spent.

"It's about public relations but it's more than that, it's also about negotiations, an ambassadorial role."

Chair of Jersey's Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Deputy Rob Ward, added: "We do get a lot back from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. We have a very active Committee and I'm in the process of setting up some really good links for our schools around the world, for example, to open their minds as well."