Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

Test for immigrants who want to become the citizens set to change from the current format

Date: (2 July 2012)    |    

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The Home Secretary Theresa May has made plans to re draft Labour’s Life in UK handbook by replacing sections on how to claim benefits and the merits of the Human Rights Act with questions about British inventions and discoveries including television, radar, DNA and the internet, along with cultural landmarks such as publication of the King James Bible.
Knowledge of key historical facts and characters like the Beatles, William Shakespeare and Florence Nightingale would become questions to test their knowledge before any immigrant wants to become a citizen of the UK.
They will have to learn the first verse of the National Anthem to be eligible for becoming a citizen.
The new guide is expected to describe Britain as a “fantastic place to live; a modern thriving society with a long and illustrious history.
It will also include questions on topics such as Winston Churchill, the Magna Carta and the English Civil War, as well as sections on the artists Gainsborough, Turner and Constable as well as writers such as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Poetry and historical battles, including Trafalgar, will also be mentioned.
For the first time, immigrants will be told historically, the UK was a Christian country.
The existing 45-minute Citizenship Test, taken in 90 centres across UK, was introduced by Labour in 2005 to ensure migrants who wanted to become Britons had sufficient knowledge of the country they were settling in.
It includes questions about customs and practicalities in Britain, the legal system and the role of the monarch, parliament and the government.
But it faced criticism from its inception as even after the candidates being asked to read a chapter on the country’s history they were told they would not be tested on it.
Instead they were quizzed on topics such as the make-up of the European Union, how to claim benefits and even how to buy a round in a pub.
In an immigration speech last year, the prime minister, David Cameron pledged to improve the test.
A Home Office spokesman said putting the country’s culture and history at the heart of the citizenship test was to help ensure those permanently settling to understand British way of life, while allowing them to properly integrate into the British society.
Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of the Migration Watch think tank, said it was the right change of emphasis.
It will be looking at people for what they can contribute and give an idea of the country they are coming to, be it its history, culture or ways. It is right they should have an idea of that rather than something that encourages them to see what they can get out of the country, he said.