Conservative backbencher Daniel Kawczynski received tuition worth £8,244 in 2020-21 alone – equivalent to £158 a week
Taxpayers have footed the bill for MPs to get tens of thousands of pounds in language lessons – including one Tory who has spent nearly £22,000 learning Polish.
Critics hit out after the House of Commons disclosed that politicians have received more than £127,000 worth of free classes in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian and Arabic over the past five years.
The costs of the classes laid on by parliament reached a new record of £33,931 last year, when people were ordered to stay at home amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Conservative backbencher Daniel Kawczynski received tuition worth £8,244 in 2020-21 alone – equivalent to around £158 a week.
Since 2016 Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, has racked up £21,997 of lessons, according to the figures from parliament.
He described himself in 2019 as a ‘almost fluent Polish speaker,’ adding that he used the ability to convince Warsaw not to extend the Brexit Article 50 time.
His response to our request was not received.
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debonnaire took £3,411 worth of Arabic classes in 2020-21, saying it ‘helps me communicate with the diverse population’ in her Bristol West constituency.
Fellow Labour MP Tony Lloyd ran up a £1,302.03 bill brushing up on Spanish last year, while Tories Stephen Crabb and Andrew Percy had costs of £2,329 and £2,123.50 respectively for French tuition.
Another Conservative, Stuart Anderson, was listed as having £4,058.88 worth of Punjabi lessons. A large Indian population resides in his Wolverhampton constitut.
The figures were not commented upon by any of the four MPs.
There is no suggestion that any of the politicians have broken rules, with the Commons offering ‘training in accordance with their parliamentary duties’.
There is no suggestion that any of the politicians have broken rules, with the Commons offering ‘relevant training… in connection with their parliamentary duties’
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debonnaire took £3,411 worth of Arabic classes in 2020-21, saying it ‘helps me communicate with the diverse population’ in the Bristol West constituency
Kawczynski, who described himself in 2019 as a ‘almost fluent Polish speaker”, said that he used the ability to convince Warsaw not to extend the Brexit Article 50 extension period.
However, Danielle Boxall, media campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is a lot of money for language courses that many taxpayers couldn’t afford for themselves.
MPs should not be expected to pay the tax if they want to study another language.
“Maybe language lessons should not be replaced by instruction in the art of making money.
Ms Debonnaire said: ‘I have been studying Arabic because it helps me communicate with the diverse population I represent. Arabic can be difficult to master, and I am proud that I have achieved a high level of proficiency over the past few years.
“These classes undoubtedly have helped me to do my job. This language has been a great help to constituents. The language can also be used to help understand politics in the Middle East. This affects the UK in many different ways.
The House of Commons spokeswoman said that MPs have the right to receive language training according to their Parliamentary duties.
“Annual expenses depend on the number and type of MPs that accept the offer.