The Daily Mail reports that immigrants applying for UK visas should undergo an English test, said two senior MPs this week.
Former Labour Minister Frank Field and former Tory Defence minister Nicholas Soames also called for new restrictions on spouses coming into the country.
They warned that stringent new checks were necessary to curb abuses of the system and bring immigration ‘firmly and fairly under control’.
In an open letter to Home Secretary Alan Johnson, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling and the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, the MPs urged the three main parties to adopt a ‘common approach’ to immigration.
Mr Field and Mr Soames said immigrants should demonstrate they can speak English so they can ‘participate satisfactorily in our society, be able to find work, and know their rights and responsibilities.’
Migrants currently have to complete such a test before they are granted residency (ILR) or British citizenship, but Mr Field and Mr Soames want the English language part of the process to be extended to visa applicants.
Immigration Matters Comment
The cross party anti-immigration duo have made what seems a like sensible suggestion. If people want to come to Britain why shouldn’t they speak English? However, Mr Soames and Mr Field have failed to explain precisely how a ‘blanket English test’ covering all immigrants would work in practice.
For instance, whilst many people might agree that a spouse from Pakistan or China joining her husband should speak English, how would a born and bred British man feel if he was told that his foreign bride could come to the UK without passing an English test?
Thousands of British men and women marry foreigners from countries such as Thailand, Turkey and Russia, where English is not always widely spoken.
Employers employing foreign nationals such as Senior Care Assistants would normally require a candidate to speak English.
Millions of British people live and work abroad in such places as The UAE, Thailand, Hong Kong and Spain, and never learn the local language. How many Brits living in Dubai speak fluent Arabic? How many even attempt to learn Thai, Mandarin or even Spanish?
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