The government talks about integration but is denying migrants free English lessonsby Bernard Crick / July 22, 2006 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2006 issue of Prospect Magazine
In an overloaded institution like the home office, good initiatives sometimes get forgotten. I was reminded of this when the story broke recently that five illegal immigrants were working for the immigration and nationality directorate. A year or two ago I often worked late in the home office in Whitehall before catching the sleeper back to Edinburgh. As I am a friendly sort of fellow, I would try to chat to the cleaners. But none of them could speak English. (They were, however, almost certainly legal. Back then, before citizens of the new EU states were free to work here, it was easy to get work permits to import unskilled workers.)
One reason I was working late at the home office was because I was chairman of an advisory group which produced a report three years ago entitled “The New and the Old,” which recommended new regulations for naturalisation and citizenship. Almost all were accepted and implemented—including citizenship ceremonies and language tests. The one recommendation not accepted was on the funding of language lessons.