`English helps immigrants break barriers’, says Jim Murphy

Knowledge of language `fair thing to demand’, he adds

16th February 2010: Less than a week after Tory Shadow Communities Minister Sayeeda Warsi called for teaching immigrants English, instead of translating council documents, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said they must accept core values of Britain, including the ability to speak English.

He has also asserted politicians backing illegal immigrants determined to stay in the country were undermining public confidence in the system. Murphy said a firm but fair immigration policy was needed to help meet the country’s employment needs

Addressing a conference in Glasgow with Home Office minister Meg Hillier, he said on the issue of English it was in no one’s interest, if the new immigrants cannot speak the world’s most popular language when they came to live in Britain.

He said speaking English helped breaks down the barriers and speed up the process of integration. It was good for the immigrants and for Britain, he said, adding knowledge of spoken English was a fair thing to demand of those wanting to settle here.

Murphy said many Scots had qualms about the system being abused or queue-jumping within the welfare state. He said non-EU immigrants would have to serve a period of probationary citizenship, while serious criminals would be deported. There would also be a duty to learn English.

Sayeeda Warsi had earlier stated the taxpayers’ money should be spent on teaching people English rather that keeping people apart by translating into a plethora of languages.

She had added the Government needed to focus its efforts on integrating communities, otherwise Britain risks becoming a divided nation.

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