Immigrants must know reasonable standard of English: Cameron

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H S Rao

London, Feb 3 (PTI) Britain is planning to introducetougher rules to ensure that immigrants specially from theIndian sub-continent have a "reasonable standard" of English,Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

"Migrant families have an obligation to teach theirchildren English before they start school. We will bringforward tougher rules to ensure those arriving in the UK havea reasonable standard of English," Cameron told the House ofCommons.

According to a report, one in six children do notspeak English as their first language. Ministers believe thatchildren brought up here stand a better chance of succeedingif their parents have a good grasp of the language.

Cameron spoke out after a Commons exchange withYorkshire Tory MP Kris Hopkins, who said: "Sadly in Keighley,too many children start school and don''t speak English."

He then asked Cameron: "Do you agree with me thatthere is a responsibility and an obligation upon parents tomake sure their children speak English?"

Cameron replied: "I completely agree with you. Thefact is, in too many cases this isn''t happening.

"The last government did make some progress on makingsure people learned English when they came to our country. Ithink we need to go further. If you look at the figures forthe number of people who are brought over as husbands andwives, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, we shouldbe putting in place � and we will be putting in place �tougher rules to make sure they do learn English so when theycome, if they come, they can be more integrated into ourcountry."

A recent study by MigrationWatch found that childrenwho speak English as their first language are in a minority insome inner-city London schools.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Birmingham,Bradford and Leicester all have more than 40 per cent ofpupils in primary schools who do not have English as a firstlanguage.

To date, the government''s policies have focused uponmarriage visas. Since September, those coming to Britain tomarry UK citizens have been forced to sit pre-entry testsproving a basic level of English.

Lawyers argue that the tests, which apply only tothose from non-English-speaking countries, are discriminatory,and breach human rights law. But Immigration Minister DamianGreen argued that the English language requirement would allowfor a "more cohesive society".

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