To learn or not to learn English — is the question

Labour city councilor says rule requiring knowledge of English for immigrants unfair 29th July 2011: To learn or not to learn English  — is the question.
Backing British citizen Rashida Chapti in her fight against the immigration laws that barring her Indian husband from moving to the UK, local Labour city councilor Mian Mayat dubs the rules as unfair.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme the rules were unfair as they failed to take into account the applicant’s age.

He added India’s educated youth could be expected to learn or pick up English. But it was unrealistic to expect an Indian villager of 58 to do so.

He elaborated Chapti’s husband will have to travel 180 miles to a Government-approved language school in Mumbai to lean English and would need around 50 lessons at £10 each. It would be about 15 times his annual income.

As per the Home Office requirement, anyone entering the UK to join their spouse must speak a minimum level of English. But, the lawyers told the High Court, sitting in Birmingham, that the tougher language tests discriminated against British-Indian families and their traditions.

Appearing already for the couple, Manjit Gill QC,  told the High Court that the rules were against their rights to a family life and amounted to racial discrimination.

Elaborating, Gill said the rules stopped a British citizen from living with her husband purely because he was a foreign citizen who did not speak English.

But Conservative MP Dominic Raab, spearheading a parliamentary campaign for human rights reform, insisted learning the language was essential as it helped newcomers both socially and in the workplace. Also, the knowledge of the language encouraged ‘integration rather than segregation’.

Rabb said even under the rules previously introduced by Labour, settlers would still have to learned English within two years of arriving, if they wanted to remain.

Raab added elected law-makers, elected, accountable ministers have decided this policy and it is quite wrong for human rights legislation to stretch the current meaning to undermine immigration controls by unaccountable judges based on a pretty flawed interpretation of the European Convention.

Currently, the rule requiring people to speak English before joining their spouse in the UK is under the judicial scanner.

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