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MP criticises Tony Blair for free holidays
7:10am Wednesday 3rd January 2007 in News
Lewes MP Norman Baker has written to the parliamentary standards commissioner calling for Tony Blair's "gravy train" to be derailed.
Mr Baker said he was angry the Prime Minister was using his status to "cadge"
free holidays from recently-made friends.
Mr Blair has come under criticism in the past week as he has relaxed at the Miami home of Bee Gee Robin Gibb.
An investigation showed the Prime Minister and his family have taken 15 free holidays at homes of businessmen, politicians and pop stars since he has been in power, to a value of more than £775,000.
Liberal Democrat Mr Baker said: "He should pay for his holidays like everyone else. It is demeaning for him to go around cadging from people."
The Lewes MP has written to Sir Philip Mawer, the parliamentary standards commissioner, calling on him to investigate whether Mr Blair has broken any rules.
Mr Baker said: "It is not appropriate for the Prime Minister to either ask for or accept holidays from people.
"He should not be indebted on any level to anyone. He should not put himself in a position where his power to make unbiased decisions is compromised."
Mr Baker has called for clear rules to be introduced regarding whether members of Parliament are allowed to accept gift holidays.
Critics say Mr Blair has been accepting holidays from people who may have an interest in British politics and will seek to use his influence. In the past, Robin Gibb has lobbied MPs to increase copyright protection for musicians.
Mr Baker said: "It would be all right to stay in the house of a friend of many years but it is not appropriate to accept favours like this from someone he evidently does not know all that well."
Downing Street said the Prime Minister makes a charitable donation whenever he takes a free holiday.
Since he came to power in 1997 he has stayed at homes owned by pop star Sir Cliff Richard, French tycoon Alain- Dominique Perrin and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi among others. The Prime Minister's office said all of his holidays had been declared in the register of members' interests.