ANNA MIKHAILOVA : MPs are using taxpayers’ funds to study a foreign tongue that is not relevant to constituents or parliamentary tasks

There has not been much plain-speaking in the midst of the sleaze that surrounds the Tory Party.

And yet MPs have been using taxpayers’ money to learn a foreign language that has questionable relevance to their constituents or parliamentary duties. For example, Shrewsbury and Atcham Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski is so ‘proud’ of his Polish roots that, in his fifth decade, has decided to learn the language – at a cost to taxpayers of £13,754 over five years.

Commons officials tell me that any MP can apply to be reimbursed for learning a foreign tongue if they reckon it’s ‘in connection with their Parliamentary duties’.

However, Kawczynski is the UK’s trade envoy to… Mongolia. Luckily he’s lost no time courting the mineral-rich country’s ministers in a way that is wholly unconnected, of course, to the second salary of £36,000 he gets from a mining investment company. Hopefully at his next lesson, Warsaw-born Kawczynski might learn how to say ‘przepraszam’, Polish for ‘sorry’, a word he seems to struggle to say in English. The MP was found to have bullied staff and called one ‘useless’ – which is also what his Polish teacher might be telling him after five years of classes.

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski

Labour frontbencher Ellie Reeves

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski learns Polish, while Labour frontbencher Ellie Reeves is learning Italian

Other MPs learning a foreign lingo with voters picking up ‘il conto’ include Labour frontbencher Ellie Reeves(Italian) and the SNP’s Angus MacNeil (Icelandic). A pattern is emerging where MPs learn a foreign language to relate directly to the All-Party Parliamentary Groups(APPGs).

Kawczynski chairs the Poland group, while Tory Stephen Crabb – who’s been learning French – is on the France one. Reeves chairs the APPG Italy. Mark Menzies in Tory Scotland has been costing taxpayers thousands of Pounds for Spanish lessons. Menzies also chaired the Latin America APPG.

Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem) sits on the APPG Qatar. And Drew Hendry – the SNP MP who last week vehemently denied being drunk on a flight to Gibraltar – took German lessons and sits on the APPG for Germany.

The Commons website makes it clear that APPGs ‘have no official status within Parliament’.

They are often funded by private companies and are notorious as a breeding ground for lobbying – or simply an excuse for paid-for foreign jollies.

I can’t help but feel the taxpayer is being taken for a ride – in any language.

Former Met Chief of Police Academy II

According to me, Operation Midland’s former chief of Met Police, which investigated the scandalous VIP sex abuse investigation, was given an Indian job as a training officer. (Lord) Bernard Hogan-Howe spent last month imparting insights – for a fee – at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad.

Following in Lord Blair’s footsteps, a Met Commissioner before him who was fired after several scandals that included a dispute involving Asian officers claiming discrimination.

After the Government’s attempt to rip up the rule book to save its Tory mate Owen Paterson from suspension for lobbying, Sir Keir Starmer devised a dazzling solution for cleaning up ‘sewer’ politics: Another quango.

Sir Keir, if elected PM promised to create an Office for Value for Money. Clearly, he’d not read the report by ex-chair of the Competition and Markets Authority Andrew Tyrie that the UK is a ‘quango state’ and their powers need scaling back.