I WAS fascinated to read David Drew’s account (SNJ, October 11) along with other MPs of his trip to Belgrade but it is good to see he is expanding his interest into the Rural Affairs of the Serbian Republic.

When I last went to Belgrade it was the capital of Yugoslavia and a ‘failed socialist state’ still under the influence of the Soviet Union.

The people I met there that year were delightful and generous even though the ordinary people lived under a failed economy.

They were only able to purchase a small amount of meat each month, the shops were empty, and everyone had to queue for groceries and bread.

There were only state controlled businesses and no public restaurants.

I visited many people’s homes, these were usually small drab rented apartments provided by the socialist government at controlled state rents, although they had very little themselves they would always offer hospitality to travellers, they would not accept money so I took them small gifts from an international hotel where I changed my money.

I stayed in hostels and travelled around the country on the state owned railway, that is on days it was running.

In this failed socialist economy there was no money to invest in the roads or the railways and the trains had ancient unreliable locomotives and old carriages.

The ordinary people were very interested in England and the ones that could speak English would tune into the BBC World Service, they said that was the only way they could get past the state propaganda and find out what was truly going on in the rest of the world.

I cannot understand how David can say their rights have been eroded as when I was there, the ordinary people had no rights they were just living from day to day and struggling to feed their families under a socialist government, freedom of the press was non existent along with women’s rights.

I will be interested to read this in depth report about Serbia produced by these MPs after their short trip and hope they got out of their limos and away from their minders to speak to some ordinary people.

With regard to David’s concern of corruption in Serbia be assured that my friends in Belgrade were shocked and fully aware of the level of corruption amongst British MPs fraudulently claiming expenses they were not entitled to in the slightly tainted Mother of all Parliaments.

I am sure the Serbian politicians listened patiently to the lecture by this small select group of MPs on how to introduce British Democracy to the people of Serbia, especially after the huge success of the Labour party introducing democracy into Iraq.

I know, that was New Labour and this is now New Old Labour, let’s hope the Serbs have very short memories and the MPs can be assured that there is no direct translation of the word ‘ironic’ in the local language.

Alma Geddin