Two Midland MPs have been named as among the worst elected representatives in the country who have failed to show up for large numbers of Commons committees.
Sion Simon, the Labour MP for Erdington, managed to get to just 29.7 per cent of meetings of the treasury committee.
Although he became the Government’s Further Education Minister in October, figures released by Parliament show he attended only 11 of 37 meetings in the 12 months to November 2008.
Shrewsbury’s Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski is listed as present at just 12.5 per cent of the justice committee and 31.3 per cent of the international development committee.
He has claimed the figures are wrong.
At least 60 of 220 members on the most powerful committees examining public spending and services have missed at least half of all meetings in the last year.
The figure has sparked concern among select committee chairmen that MPs are shirking responsibilities and failing to properly hold government to account.
Phil Willis, chairman of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, said: “I think it is the job of members to attend.”
Commons committees are cross-party groups responsible for scrutinising public expenditure and policies. They are made up of mainly back-bench MPs.
Mr Simon said: ‘‘It is a ridiculous non-story. It’s like saying every MP should be in the Chamber for every debate. Select committees do not work like that. They are just one of a range of tools MPs can use. There is no reason whatsoever to priorities select committee meetings above the other work of an MP.
“I pick my meetings and was an active and effective member of the committee. I work for the people of Erdington and the Labour Government; not the Treasury Select Committee.’’
Mr Kawczynski did not respond to calls to his office but told The Times the figure for his attendance at the international development committee was wrong and that he had not attended the justice committee because the two clashed.
Meanwhile, Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart defended foreign trips by Commons committee members to sunny climes which have cost taxpayers £1.3?million in the last year alone.
Committee members have jetted off to California, Bali, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands on overseas “fact-finding” trips.
One MP went on 11 foreign visits last year. The Taxpayer’s Alliance has said the amount of money lavished on foreign trips seemed “excessive and frivolous”.
Edgbaston MP Mrs Stuart’s foreign affairs committee spent £231,023 last year on foreign trips, including the Caribbean holiday island of Bermuda.
But the back-bench Labour MP said her visit to the Falkland Islands as part of the committee’s work last May was modest and involved little luxury.
“We flew most of the way by military plane and stayed in fairly basic bed and breakfast accommodation,” she said. “It was far from lavish or excessive.
“The trip to Bermuda led to the suspension of the government in the Turks and Caicos Islands because of corruption.
“These trips cost a lot of money but if you were to ask me whether the trips provided good value, then the answer would be yes.”
Other trips included a £48,000 junket to South Africa by the justice committee to look at the role of the prison officer abroad.
Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Every parliamentary trip should be scrutinised to see if it is really worthwhile.”