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The latest figures show that £137,445 has been spent teaching MPs languages ranging from Arabic to Icelandic and Japanese since 2014-15. While just £2,839 was spent on the services in 2015-16 these have grown in popularity and cost £33,931 in 2020-21.
Participants in the most recent year include Conservative Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski whose Polish lessons cost £8,244; Wolverhampton South West Conservative MP Stuart Anderson studied Punjabi (£4,059); Llanelli Labour MP Nia Griffith studied Polish (£3,823); and Bristol West Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire studied Arabic (£3,411).
Danielle Boxall of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This is a lot of money for language courses that many taxpayers couldn’t afford for themselves. If MPs want to learn another language, they should pay for classes out of their own pocket and not expect taxpayers to pick up the bill.
“Maybe instead of language lessons, MPs should be taught about where the money comes from to pay for these perks.”
MPs who used the scheme in 2019-20 included Isle of Wight Conservative MP whose help with Russian came to £964, while £1,541 was spent helping then-Labour Newcastle-under-Lyme MP Paul Farrelly with Japanese.
In 2018-19, SNP Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil studied Icelandic at a cost of £268; former Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones studied both French (£660) and Spanish (£1,085); and Cardiff North Labour MP Anna McMorrin studied Welsh (£380).
The previous year, Chippenham Conservative MP Michelle Donelan’s assistance with Mandarin came to just £14.95 while Tory MP for the Wrekin Mark Pritchard studied Georgian (£161).
In 2016-17 Alex Salmond, then SNP Gordon MP, had help with French at a cost of £409.50.
The UK Parliament website states that the House of Commons “approved funding to allow Members of Parliament to receive training in accordance with their parliamentary duties” and “provision was established to enable Members to learn a language or develop existing skills”.
It adds that the “service is arranged by the learning and development team and courses are run by approved training providers”.
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