Page last updated at 21:57 GMT, Monday, 22 March 2010

Mike Hancock MP: Foreign trips and rule breaches

Mike Hancock MP
Mike Hancock is MP for Portsmouth South

A BBC investigation has revealed that more than 20 MPs have breached rules in relation to registering and declaring overseas trips paid for by foreign governments.

The trip taken by Mike Hancock, his relevant parliamentary activity and reply to the BBC are listed below.


Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South Mike Hancock visited Taiwan in August 2007 on a trip paid for by the Taipei Office in the UK.

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
Members may not, for example, call for increased UK financial assistance to the government which provided the hospitality

Within a year of registration of the trip Mr Hancock asked a question relating to Taiwan without declaring an interest.

Mr Hancock was also the primary sponsor of the following early day motion relating to the country, which he tabled without declaring an interest:



In response, Mr Hancock told the BBC that he had submitted the written question on behalf of a constituent with Taiwanese relatives.

He refers to a paragraph in the MPs' code of conduct, which states: "It is the responsibility of the member… to judge whether a financial interest is sufficiently relevant to a particular debate, proceeding, meeting or other activity to require a declaration."

Mr Hancock said: "As I had no financial or, to this extent, any other interest, I have concluded that there is no sufficient relevancy to declare it, especially taking into account that my trip to Taiwan has taken place a year earlier."

The MP added that his view that Taiwan should be recognised as an independent state was long-held and not influenced by his visit. He cites a parliamentary question he asked in 1999 and an early day motion he supported in 2003 as evidence of that.

Other MPs who have breached the rules:

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