Wide disparities between the bills submitted for hotels and travel arrangements by members of Tony Blair's cabinet are revealed in a table released yesterday by the government.

They show large differences between the arrangements made by Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, who spends more than anyone else on travel, and Clare Short, the international development secretary, who also travels widely.

Differences in spending are also pointed up between Mr Cook and Gordon Brown, the chancellor, when they attend similar foreign events. Mr Brown's entourage spends much less than either the prime minister or Mr Cook. The latter take far more officials with them, while Mr Brown sometimes travels with only a minimum of advisers.

The biggest difference is that the foreign secretary nearly always travels in specially chartered private jets, while Ms Short and Mr Brown normally travel business or first class on scheduled airlines.

Other big spenders include George Roberston, the defence secretary, who took a day trip costing £3,581 to HMS Invincible in the Mediterranean. He is widely travelled minister, with frequent visits to the Middle East and to British forces overseas, and for security reasons most travel is by private jet or RAF flights.

Cabinet ministers also have different expectations when abroad. The most blatant is between Jack Cunningham and Nick Brown, who followed him as agriculture minister. Mr Cunningham ran up £28,000 at European Union agricultural council meetings. His successor spent just over £1,000 attending the following two agriculture councils.

Some ministers travel very rarely - and, in the case of Alastair Darling and Alan Milburn, successive chief secretaries to the treasury, never. Ron Davies, the former Welsh secretary, had only one foreign official trip paid for by the taxpayer. His successor has not been abroad at all.

Successive trade secretaries, Margaret Beckett and Peter Mandelson, and the culture secretary, Chris Smith, go abroad half a dozen times a year.

Date Event Venue Cost

Tony Blair, Prime minister

30 June-1 July 1997 China handover, Hong Kong, £80,654

9-13 July 1997 EU/Japan summit, Tokyo, £109,958

4-7 February 1998 Clinton talks, Washington, £77,931

21 September 1998 UN address, New York, £55,945

5-11 October 1998 China trip, Beijing and Hong Kong, £134,414

6-9 January 1999 South Africa trip, Cape Town and Kuwait, £149,919

7-8 February 1999 Hussein funeral, Amman, £39,023

John Prescott, Deputy prime minister

11 September 1997 Mother Theresa's funeral, Calcutta, £99,500

5-12 December 1997 Climate change conference, Kyoto, Japan, £5,884

29 June- 8 July 1998 Open airport, Hong Kong and China, £7,417

3-16 March 1999 Trade/scuba diving, India and Maldives, £6,925

Robin Cook, Foreign secretary

20-22 June 1997 G8 summit, Denver, £81,956

26 August- 1 Sept 1997 Far East visit, Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, £169,186

12-15 October 1997 Return from Royal visit to London, New Dehli-London, £3,849

11-14 February 1998 Caribbean Forum, Panama, Nassa and Antigua, £65,288

15-18 March 1998 Middle East trip, Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, Damascus and Beirut, £112,003

8-11 March 1999 Africa trip, Abuja, Lagos, Accra and Bidjan, £72,725

Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the exchequer

20-22 June 1997 G8 Summit. Denver, £5,548

14-22 September 1997 Commwealth summit, Mauritius, Bangkok and Hong Kong, £9,014

4-6 December 1997 Speech, New York, £3,942

28-29 January 1999 World Economic Forum, Davos, £722

Chris Smith, Culture secretary

17-19 March 1998 Film Festival, Cannes, £3320

5-11 November Tourism visit, Tokyo, £12,761

David Blunkett, Education Secretary

3-4 June 1998 Social Affairs Council, Luxembourg, £4,555

2-3 March 1999 Speech and meetings, Bonn, £2,801

Frank Dobson, Health secretary

22-23 June 1998 World Cup Football Match, Toulouse, £896

21-23 October 1998 Healthcare symposium, Washington and Baltimore, £4,979

Peter Mandelson, Trade secretary

10-16 October 1998 Trade promotion, New York and San Francisco, £7,704

12-16 September 1998 Trade promotion, Johannesburg, £5,626

12 November 1998 Third Way talk/meeting, Madrid, £869

Jack Straw, Home secretary

9-10 October 1997 Informal meeting, Luxembourg, £2,707

9-10 December 1997 G8 crime summit, Washington, £3,235

Lord Irvine, Lord Chancellor

6-9 September 1997 Judical meetings, Hong Kong, £6,113

4-19 January 1998 Commonwealth conference, Trinidad and Tobago, None £1,777

6-22 August 1998 Meetings, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, £8,539

Jack Cunningham, Agriculture minister

9-12 January 1998 Banana war meeting, St Lucia, £3,576

20-21 April 1998 Agricultural Council, Luxembourg, £10,031

22-26 June 1998 Agricutrual Council, Luxembourg, £18.764

Nick Brown, Agriculture minister

4-5 March 1999 Agricultural Council, Brussels, £537

30-31 March 1999 Meeting Swedish minister, Stockholm, £565

George Robertson, Defence secretary

15-18 September 1997 Meetings, Poland and Ukraine, £19,202

24 November 1977 Visit HMS Invincible Calgliari, Italy, £3,581

22 December 1997 Eurofighter signing, Bonn, £4,076

8-9 November 1998 Kuwait and Bahrain, Official visit, £72,500

7-11 February 1999 Middle East trip, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, £92,154



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