Immigrants must learn National Anthem for new citizenship test
The test taken by foreign nationals applying to become British citizens is to be rewritten by the government, according to reports.
Immigrants will have to learn the first verse of the national anthem and be tested on key historical facts as part of the overhaul designed to place a greater focus on the nation’s culture and past, it was reported.
A new handbook, expected to be issued in the autumn, will be given to prospective citizens and form the basis of the modified 45-minute exam all aspiring British citizens must pass.
It will tell immigrants the UK is “historically” a Christian country with a “long and illustrious history” and include sections about key battles as well as British inventions, discoveries and culture.
A section on the Queen will also be included, with would-be Britons also expected to memorise the profiles of famous artists, musicians, writers and playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and Gustav Holst. The guide will reproduce Robert Browning’s Home Thoughts From Abroad and cover cultural landmarks such as the publication of the King James Bible.
But opposition politicians and immigration groups criticised the planned changes as another attempt to limit immigration to the UK.
The Life in the United Kingdom test, taken by about 80,000 people a year, was originally introduced by Labour in 2005 and included details such as a specific breakdown of the ethnic diversity of Britain. Questions on the test included the speed limit on UK motorways, and the number of weeks allowed for paternity leave.
A “practice test” on UK citizenship online has 24 questions, including three on Europe and one on who qualifies for free prescriptions – making no acknowledgement that they are free for everyone in Scotland and Wales.
Home Secretary Theresa May is understood to believe the previous test placed too much emphasis on the practicalities of daily living in Britain rather than the country’s history. She is said to have scrapped sections dealing with claiming welfare payments, borrowing money and the Human Rights Act.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Putting our culture and history at the heart of the citizenship test will help ensure those permanently settling can understand British life, allowing them to properly integrate into our society.”
The £50 test consists of 24 multiple-choice questions based on the Life in the UK handbook and can be taken at dozens of centres around the country.
Last night, SNP home affairs spokesman Pete Wishart said: “Scotland’s immigration and population requirements are entirely different from the rest of the UK, but yet resolving our issues require a knowledge of Wellington. The sooner Scotland gets control of its own immigration policy the better.”
Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, also criticised the new test as “raising the bar” for settlement for New Britons. He added: “We would like to see the evidence of the current test failing in its stated aim to teach migrants the basics needed for life in this country. To make the test less practical and more historical will give migrants an abundance of knowledge they will not use. This is another measure to limit access to the UK.”
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