Foreign Office spent £13m on private school fees

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Indy Politics

The Foreign Office spent more than £13 million sending the children of British diplomats to private schools last year, it was revealed.

The bill to the taxpayer for officers serving overseas was £5.8 million and £7.4 million was spent on UK-based staff, official figures show.

The total spent in 2009-10 on the continuity of education allowance was for the 521 children of 339 staff. Those staff represent about 6% of the department's workforce.

Separately, 48 members of the Department for International Development on overseas postings received payments worth £1.3 million and these were used to pay to send children to private schools including Fettes College, Winchester College and Marlborough College.

The details of the allowances were unearthed by Labour's Gloria De Piero in response to written parliamentary questions.

In reply, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said diplomats had to be prepared to serve anywhere in the world, often at very short notice.

He added: "Members of the diplomatic service pay UK tax wherever they work and are entitled to have their children educated at public expense. Most parents prefer to take their children with them on posting, but in some countries we do not permit staff to take their children either for health or security reasons. In others, local schools of an acceptable standard are not available."

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