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Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether facilities were offered to Lord Ashcroft during his recent visit to Bolivia by the UK Embassy; and whether the Embassy incurred costs for entertaining him and his party. (176878)

Lord Ashcroft travelled to Bolivia as a member of the party of the visiting hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Mitchell). Our embassy in La Paz met and greeted the party at Cochabamba airport and booked (but did not pay for) travel arrangements from Cochabamba to La Paz and back. The ambassador provided accommodation at the residence for one night and hosted a lunch and a dinner for the party as part of their programme. The embassy also covered the costs of interpretation for meetings.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidelines recommend that British embassies overseas, as far as local conditions and circumstances allow, should offer the above facilities to the Leader of the Opposition, Opposition front bench spokesmen and the leaders of other political parties as a matter of course.