MPs spend £21,000 learning languages including Japanese and Georgian

MPs are accused of making taxpayers ‘subsidise their hobbies’ after running up a £21,000 bill for learning languages including Japanese, Icelandic and Georgian

  • 22 politicians had language classes last year costing more than £21,000
  • Languages studied included Japanese, Georgian, Icelandic, Arabic and French
  • Critics question why politicians were making taxpayers ‘subsidise their hobbies’

MPs have been accused of making taxpayers ‘subsidise their hobbies’ after running up a £21,000 bill on classes for languages including Georgian, Japanese and Icelandic.

Some 22 politicians took classes at public expense last year, with costs of up to £3,000 each.

Commons rules say that MPs are entitled to free language training ‘in line with their Parliamentary duties’, and more have been taking advantage of the provision over recent years.

Commons rules say that MPs are entitled to free language training ‘in line with their Parliamentary duties’, and more have been taking advantage of the provision over recent years


Japanese lessons for Labour’s Paul Farrelly (pictured left) came in at £2,900 in 2017-18 – on top of a £3,351 bill for the previous year. SNP MP Angus MacNeil (pictured right) had £500 worth of Icelandic tuition, taking his total costs over the past four years to more than £4,300

Japanese lessons for Labour’s Paul Farrelly came in at £2,900 in 2017-18 – on top of a £3,351 bill for the previous year.

His colleague Thangam Debonnaire spent £2,697 learning Arabic, according to the Commons figures seen by MailOnline.

Instruction on Polish for Tory Daniel Kawcynski were £2,787. Perhaps the most off-beat linguistic option was chosen by fellow Conservative Mark Pritchard – with £160 worth of Georgian classes.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil had £500 worth of Icelandic tuition, taking his total costs on the language over the past four years to more than £4,300.

Conservative Mark Hendrick’s efforts to speak Mandarin cost £745, and Labour’s Cat West had £964 worth of lessons in the language.

However, Tory MP Michelle Donelan does not seem to have got on particularly well with Mandarin classes – as her costs were just £14.95.

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French was a popular choice for MPs, with Conservatives Julian Knight and Andrew Percy both incurring bills of £1,260.

Lessons for Labour’s Vernon Coaker and Ian Murray cost £630.

Tory Jeremy Lefroy used the taxpayer-funded provision to brush up on German with £1,155 of classes. Kwasi Kwarteng and Labour MP Pat McFadden had the same idea, with costs of £466 and £866 respectively. 

Labour MP Mike Gapes and Conservative Mark Menzies opted for Spanish school, leaving bills of £599 and £1,051. 

Another Tory, Glyn Davies, took lessons in Colombian Spanish.

The SNP’s Paul Monaghan had £266 of Italian classes in two months before losing his seat at the general election in June last year.  

Charlotte Leslie, who was also defeated at the general election, had £107 of instruction in Arabic.

Critics questioned why MPs at the Houses of Parliament (pictured) were forcing taxpayers to ‘subsidise their hobbies’

The figures disclosed by the House of Commons authorities show total costs were £21,086 last year – up from £20,315 in 2016-17.

The spend was just £2,838 in 2015-16.

A House of Commons spokeswoman said: ‘MPs are entitled to undertake language training in accordance with their Parliamentary duties. 

‘Annual costs depend on the number of MPs who decide to take up the offer.’ 

James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘Many of us would like to benefit from learning second languages, or perhaps a musical instrument or a new sport. 

‘However, we have to pay for such perks out of our own money, and don’t benefit from the ability to force taxpayers to subsidise such hobbies. 

‘MPs should pay for such language classes themselves, especially as they also benefit from subsidised bars and restaurants at the expense of the rest of us!’  

Which MPs took language lessons ?

 Lisa Cameron 

Japanese – £80.41

Vernon Coaker

French – £630.00

Glyn Davies

Spanish, Colombian – £1,040.85

Thangam Debonnaire

Arabic – £2,697.47

Michelle Donelan

Mandarin – £14.95

Paul Farrelly

Japanese – £2,900.70

Mike Gapes

Spanish – £599.72

Mark Hendrick

Mandarin – £745.82

Daniel Kawczynski

Polish – £2,787.39

Julian Knight

French – £1,260.00

Kwasi Kwarteng

German – £466.45   

Jeremy Lefroy

German – £1,155.02 

Charlotte Leslie

Arabic – £107.21

Angus MacNeil

Icelandic – £500.30

Pat McFadden

German – £866.27

Mark Menzies

Spanish – £1,051.86

Paul Monaghan

Italian – £266.54

Ian Murray

French – £630.00

Andrew Percy

French -£1,260.00

Mark Pritchard

Georgian – £160.81

Royston Smith

Arabic – £900.20

Cat West

Mandarin – £964.87

 

 

 

 

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