Observations On Home Secretary Theresa May English Test

Home Secretary Theresa May is reported to be planning changes to the test taken by foreign nationals who wish to become British citizens.

The Life in the United Kingdom test was introduced by Labour in 2005.

The Sunday Times says immigrants will be told “historically the UK is a Christian country”.

The revised version will focus less on the practicalities of daily living in Britain and require more knowledge of British history and achievements.

Inventions and discoveries

The paper says immigrants will also have to learn the first verse of the national anthem before they can become UK citizens.

Mrs May is understood to have scrapped sections of the test which dealt with claiming benefits and the Human Rights Act.

“Start Quote

Putting our culture and history at the heart of the citizenship test will help ensure those permanently settling can understand British life allowing them to properly integrate into our society”

End Quote Home Office

Instead potential immigrants will be expected to learn about Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Shakespeare and other historical and cultural figures.

The new version of the handbook, expected to be issued in the autumn, will include sections about key battles, such as Trafalgar, and British inventions and discoveries.

A Home Office spokesperson told the BBC: “Putting our culture and history at the heart of the citizenship test will help ensure those permanently settling can understand British life allowing them to properly integrate into our society.”

The handbook is the basis of a 45-minute test which potential citizens can take at one of 90 centres around the UK.

Sultana Razia, who came to the UK from Bangladesh five years ago, has already failed the test once in her quest to become a British citizen.

“If you want to live here, you have to know all the information – all the rules and the way of living here and the culture here,” she told BBC News.

“The test is important, it’s quite hard but it’s important.”

Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of the Migration Watch think tank, welcomed the planned changes.

“Start Quote

People who do speak English, who are born and brought up here, we would find it very, very difficult to pass so how will they pass?”

End Quote BSGS College director Habib Mirza

“People are almost encouraged to see what they can get out of the country rather than what they can contribute,” he told BBC News.

“And I think that the emphasis moving towards people having an understanding of the country they’re joining effectively – becoming citizens of – is absolutely right.”

But Habib Mirza, who runs citizenship courses at BSGS College, in Whitechapel, east London, said proposed changes would represent “a massive barrier for anybody who wants to settle down in the United Kingdom, the vast majority of whom cannot speak English anyway”.

“People who do speak English, who are born and brought up here, we would find it very, very difficult to pass so how will they pass?”

And he said asking people from non-Christian backgrounds to learn the National Anthem “might be against their religious beliefs, it might be against their personal beliefs” and it was therefore “unfair”.


Is there a need for change in our immigration laws in the UK comes to mind in regards to English test. On the surface of it I would say yes. Am I reading right will come from some people I say to them look into the context on its merits. If all want to pfui it afterwards I don’t have a problem if you so wish.

Immigration is a worldwide and it’s not a subject that can be easily addressed as it has happened from the beginning of time for reasons of greed capitalism vs poor nations comes to mind. When there is a lack of employment, war, and draught in their country of origin people who can afford to leave, people who struggles to make a living can’t leave. European nations went to countries to fight for king, queen and religion.

I’m in a fortunate position to be born in UK from an immigrant parents who worked hard to provide food on the table and send us to school and university. Let’s not forget it was a person called Enoch Powell that went around the world on behalf of the then conservative govt to recruit doctors, nurses, low and high skill workers which opened the floodgate in 50s – 60s. Later on he had the cheek to give his rivers of blood speech attacking immigrants if this is not a double whammy then what is.

Let us not forget it was Conservatives introduced the most racist immigration laws into UK history by pandering to right-wing media. When Labour got into government they introduced the English test for Englishness was it a ill-thought idea no it was not but do I agreed with it yes is the answer.

My reason for this is in the UK there are still communities who came into this country still cannot have a decent conversation in English they still rely on their sons and daughters to translate for them to access services from local government ie housing, benefits, and any services. Like I said I’m very proud to be a son of a immigrants and can understand some of the concerns which some people may have in regards to immigration. I believe until there is no more 1st and 2nd classes and world internationalism takes over there will be war and anger amongst communities.

History test to supersede Englishness test. Does that mean those who have been granted citizenship into UK will have re-sit their test is the question. I would like to see not just written but oral test to see if they can hold a decent conversation in the one sense and the other is that this coalition stop the students that exploit the loopholes in the education system and clamp down on small businesses who exploits their staff for whilst blowing without pay. Whilst my trend of thought is going with the flow I would like to see more action taken against companies of all sizes who sets up offices in UK from some African, Sub Indian, and Southeast asian continents abuse our system for their own gains. Please read observation on ed Miliband re: immigration here. https://gordonlyew.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/observations-on-miliband-shifts-immigration-policy-saying-labour-got-it-wrong/

Instead the coalition should be looking at University access spending might have risen but impoverished students are set to lose up to £83 million in bursaries and scholarships, education activists have warned.

The National Union of Students (NUS) yesterday baulked at the figures, gleaned from the latest report by the Office for Fair Access (Offa) on access deals with universities charging more than £6,000 per year.

Offa earlier this week hailed a headline-grabbing spending increase of £350m on disadvantaged students by 2015-16.

But the NUS warned that spending on scholarships and bursaries would plummet over the same period, from £358.5m in 2010-11 to £275.4m by 2015.

NUS president Liam Burns said that the shift in priorities simply reduced government borrowing figures at students’ expense, branding it “nothing short of daylight robbery.

“Many of those students most in need of support will be failed as a direct result of a regulator that thinks we will get more poor kids into uni by cutting the cash in their pockets,” he said.

“New leadership for Offa and a rethink of access agreements and student support cannot come a day too soon.”

An Offa spokeswoman said that they did not recognise the union’s figure but confirmed that a drop of at least £67.9m in bursary and scholarship spending once flexible “choice” programmes – which allow students to decide the format – were taken into account.

But increased spending on fee waivers would see overall access spending nearly double, she said, from £407.3m at present to £758m by 2015-16.

Fee waivers – which act as a discount on a student’s total debt – have been heavily criticised by the NUS and other student organisations that argue only high-earners can hope to repay enough of their loan to benefit from it.

This latest clash follows the Student Loans Company’s release of lending figures for 2011 last month, which revealed that of more than 3.2 million borrowers on income-contingent loans, just 20,800 had managed to repay their accounts in full by the beginning of the financial year.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills had not responded at time of print.

I have to question why this coalition did not want the House of Lords to vote to have a broad enquiry is it that they are cowing

Bob Diamond’s testimony to the Treasury select committee today may shed light on why he chucked in the towel at Barclays after digging in his heels.

He may also explain what happened at the autumn 2008 meeting with Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker where, some say, Diamond believed he was encouraged to falsify Barclays’ borrowing costs.

More likely he will beat a low-key retreat, accepting that he, like Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and the Murdochs before him, has become a toxic brand in light of concentrated bad publicity.

Diamond will not leave empty-handed and is already said to have assets worth upwards of £95 million.

Nor will he be unemployed for long, unlike thousands of low-paid Barclays staff sacked in cost-saving measures to boost profitability.

The Barclays board was keen to hold on to him until the end, prepared to overlook trivial crimes such as fiddling the Libor inter-bank borrowing rate for the greater good of profits.

Other banks will bid for those special talents just as Barclays will replace Diamond with a similar specimen.

Pious words from parliamentary party leaders about a new beginning for banking or even a “new culture of responsibility” are precisely that.

Lord Skidelsky had it right when he said last year: “As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.”

They have taken over government responsibility for deciding how resources should be allocated, relegating human need far below rich people’s greed.

New Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders worship regularly at the bankers’ shrine, attending City functions to seek approval for their all too similar political programmes and acclaiming their well-heeled audiences as “wealth creators.”

Profits and wealth are not the same. Wealth is created by human labour adding value to raw materials, not by circulating financial bundles and skimming 10 per cent off the top of each transaction.

Yet successive governments have stood back in awe as banks have amassed riches by trading in futures, gambling in derivatives and dodging tax responsibilities while productive industry in Britain is systematically sidelined.

The banks’ top brass and traders have rewarded themselves well, with remuneration for the Barclays chief executive jumping 5,000 per cent over 30 years as average pay has merely trebled.

According to the OECD, the share of national income taken by the best-rewarded 1 per cent rose from 7.1 per cent in 1970 to 14.3 per cent in 2005.

The finance sector has led the way in grabbing the cream, with more than half of the top 1 per cent of highest earners operating in this field, but it’s not alone.

The Office for National Statistics revealed last November that, while most low-paid workers’ incomes had shrunk, top chief executives’ pay had risen 15 per cent while senior managers had seen 7.1 per cent rises on average.

This injustice has been exacerbated by lower tax rates for the rich and parliamentary consensus behind austerity and public service job cuts.

Not surprisingly, 65 per cent of people believe the level of inequality in Britain is too high, but no frontbenchers seem to be listening.

Isn’t it time that we heard a call from somewhere for public ownership of the banks, investment to be decided by social benefit, a maximum wage and a serious tax on accumulated wealth?


2 responses to “Observations On Home Secretary Theresa May English Test

  1. I think that some knowledge of English history, at least in outline, should be required although recent events and knowledge of the general social and political structure of the country as more important, history does out them in context.. But then I think that a similar level of knowledge should be required before being allowed to move from primary to secondary education. Similarly a certain level of literacy in both written and spoken English, I feel, should be required both to become a citizen and to move from primary to secondary education. I do like the idea of including an oral test to ensure that the person can hold a reasonable conversation. I do know that the doctor’s surgery around the corner from where I lived up to a few months ago had major problems with patients who don’t speak English. The area is a mixture of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, with some British, Irish and East African thrown in. Many of the older people spoke only their community language. As there are so many different community langauges in the area the surgery could not cover them all, although all of the staff spoke at least one community langauge as well as English, so had a sign in reception which said (in about a dozen languages) “If you don’t speak English please bring someone with you who can translate”. A fairly common problem, one of the receptionists told me, was that the person they brought to translate would be their child or grandchild who could not (or would not) translate soem of the information or who the patient did not want to tell about some of their symptoms (inparticular those to do with intimate areas).

  2. Pingback: Observation Bring in migrants to cut billions from deficit, says Osborne’s watchdog | gordonlyew

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