Plymouth MP defends all-expenses-paid trip to Saudi Arabia
CITY MP Oliver Colvile has defended an all expense paid trip he made to Saudi Arabia last month.
Mr Colvile, who is vice chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on the Armed Forces, visited the Middle Eastern kingdom in December. His trip was paid for by the Saudi Government.
Last year David Cameron, the Prime Minister, was criticised by human rights campaigners for selling arms to countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Colvile, the Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, went to Saudi Arabia as part of a UK Defence Forum delegation.
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He said he travelled with fellow Conservative MPs Jack Lopresti and Tobias Ellwood and a Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Falkner of Margravine.
"We were there to try to promote defence exports," Mr Colvile told The Herald.
"As a naval town this is something that is very important for Plymouth."
Mr Colvile said he also had the opportunity to talk to the Saudi foreign minister about developments in the Middle East.
"I was keen to have a better understanding of the regional politics and the impact on our Armed Forces."
Mr Colvile said he also spoke to the Saudis about their plans to send medical students to train in Britain.
With the Government reviewing the number of UK medical students, he was "keen to make sure that Plymouth University's medical school is not damaged".
"If Saudi students come here that will help to make our medical school viable and sustainable," he said.
Mr Colvile said the Saudis were offering to pay for their students to work in the NHS as part of their training and he had passed on that information to the Health Secretary.