Foreigners who want to settle permanently in the UK will be quizzed on their knowledge of everything from life in the stone age to the engineering achievements of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the writing of Robert Burns under a new test to be launched by the Home Office as part of government attempts to cut net migration.
The new examination was announced by the minister for migration, Mark Harper, who said it replaced one drawn up under the Labour government and removed “mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet”.
“Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life,” he said.
Knowledge of British composers, writers and even Monty Python and the Two Ronnies, who reportedly appear on the new syllabus, will be tested when the new exam comes into effect in March.
A score of 75% from 24 questions will be a pass and the test will only be open to people who speak English to a required standard (level 3 of the English for Speakers of Other Languages system).
Questions under Labour’s version of the test included: “Is the statement below true or false: adults who have been unemployed for six months are usually required to join New Deal if they wish to continue receiving benefit”, “A quango is A: a government body B: a non-departmental public body C: an arm of the judiciary D: an educational establishment?” and “How might you stop young people playing tricks on you at Halloween? A: Call the police B: Give them some money C: Give them sweets or chocolate D: Hide from them.”
Applicants will be expected to study a new book called Life in the UK which goes on sale on Monday.
“In the past, historical information was included in the book but was not tested, meaning that migrants did not have to show they had an understanding of how modern Britain has evolved,” the Home Office said in a statement.
“The new book and test will focus on events and people who have contributed to making Britain great. This includes writers like William Shakespeare and Robert Burns, the great scientists Isaac Newton and Alexander Fleming, engineers and industrialists like Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Richard Arkwright and politicians including Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee.”
The history chapter moves from the stone age, through the Romans, Norman conquest, Magna Carta, the Reformation and break with Rome and beyond. It looks at the development of parliamentary democracy, achievements of the industrial revolution and the Victorians, right up to the present day.
“The book also covers many aspects of British cultural and artistic heritage including the music of Purcell and the worldwide influence of modern British composers, from Benjamin Britten to the Beatles and Andrew Lloyd Webber,” the Home Office said. “It features artistic achievements from medieval stained glass to David Hockney, our national love of gardening and garden design and work produced by influential architects including Christopher Wren and Norman Foster.”