02 February 2012

UK driving tests to be restricted to English and Welsh language only

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After concerns that translators are helping immigrants cheat in their driving tests, UK ministers are reportedly planning to scrap rules which allow people to sit their theory tests in any of the 19 languages currently approved by the Driving Standards Agency.

UK immigration

Junior Transport Minister Mike Penning has vowed to stop people exploiting the foreign language options in driving tests.

An investigation by the Driving Standards Agency uncovered nearly 800 drivers who have had their licences revoked over the past two years after apparently being 'coached' by translators allowed to sit in on the theory test to explain the examiner's instructions.

With plenty more cases still to be processed - each allegedly costing over £10,000 - and a total of nine translators struck off the approved list, the revelations have caused ministers to step in.

Junior Transport Minister Mike Penning said the current system, which was implemented by the previous Labour Government, provided further potential for exploitation of the UK immigration system as a immigrants are offered a disincentive to learn English.

"This practice is wrong on many levels, and we are going to end it. It is very hard to fathom the logic of why it was ever allowed in the first place. Road safety should be our priority, not political correctness.

"It cannot be right to be handing British driving licences to people who are unable to read warning signs flashed up on motorway gantries.

"We should be encouraging people to learn English, instead of offering them ways to avoid it."

"There is also evidence of fraud" said Mr Penning.

The change in rules, which are expected to limit the languages the test can be taken in to only English and Welsh, could be implemented as early as later this year but the Equality and Human Rights Commission is understood to have alerted ministers to a potential breach of anti-discrimination laws if they cannot prove a lack in English leads to a threat in road safety.

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