Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski defends taxpayer-funded Polish lessons

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has defended taking thousands of pounds worth of Polish language lessons which were paid for by taxpayers.

Daniel Kawczynski
Daniel Kawczynski

The MP, who is chairman of the All-Party Group for Poland at Westminster and was born in Warsaw, has attracted criticism for taking the lessons, despite being able to speak his native tongue.

A Freedom of Information request showed Mr Kawczynski had received nearly £22,000 worth of lessons between 2016 and 2021, a figured worked out over financial years. The Shrewsbury MP disputed the number and urged the Shropshire Star to ask the House of Commons to check the veracity of the figures. It is understood that in the three years up to November 2021, Mr Kawczynski received £18,328.38 worth of lessons, equating to 407.5 hours of tuition at an average of £44.98 per hour.

Mr Kawczynski told the Shropshire Star that while he had been about to have a conversation in Polish, his reading and writing skills had been limited.

The 49-year-old moved to England from Poland at the age of six.

He said: "Despite my ability to engage conversationally, my ability is however limited to either read or write in the Polish language.

"I therefore took the opportunity to improve my Polish language skills via the options available through the Learning and Development Team in the House of Commons to enable me to converse more effectively using the technical terms needed for bilateral discussions as well as to improve my Polish reading and writing skills.

"As the only British Member of Parliament born in Poland, I have a strategic interest in promoting bilateral relations between London and Warsaw as well as with our key European partners. Poland is not only Britain’s third largest trading partner, but also as a member of NATO and makes an important contribution to maintaining European peace and stability.

"My role as Chair of the All-Party Group for Poland and my involvement in taking delegations of British MPs to Warsaw prior to the Covid outbreak has meant that my language skills have enabled me to converse with others in Polish when appropriate.

"My contribution to building productive relationships and promoting bilateral opportunities with our Polish political counterparts has been noted with a personal tribute from the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki on a previous visit to London's Guildhall when he included recognition of this in his speech."

Hitting out at some newspapers for their coverage of the matter, the MP said: "Despite my commitment to building more effective international links with Poland and working to improve my Polish language skills to facilitate this, biased and out-of-context reports have been written.

"While the media provides an invaluable service in exposing and reporting wrongdoing, apparent predisposition by several journalists to consistently belittle and condemn politicians as a default mode in attempts to grab sensational and inaccurate headlines is frustrating, regrettable and a public disservice."

There is no suggestion that Mr Kawczynski has broken any rules in taking the lessons, with the Commons offering "training in accordance with their parliamentary duties".

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