Pakistan-born UK culture secretary Sajid Javid (AFP photo)
Immigrants coming into the UK must learn English as part of their contributions to British society, according to the country's first senior British Asian minister.
UK culture secretary Sajid Javid, born in Britain to Pakistani immigrants, criticised migrants who had lived in the UK for many years but still could not speak the language in an interview with 'The Sunday Telegraph'.
He said: "People want Britain to have more control over its borders, and I think they are right.
"People also say, when immigrants do come to Britain, that they should come to work, and make a contribution and that they should also respect our way of life, and I agree with all of that. It means things like trying to learn English.
"I know people myself, I have met people who have been in Britain for over 50 years and they still can't speak English.
I think it's perfectly reasonable for British people to say 'look, if you're going to settle in Britain and make it your home you should learn the language of the country and you should respect its laws and its culture'."
The Conservative party MP for Bromsgrove also said there was no place for Sharia law in the English legal system.
He spoke amid reports that Sharia courts have been established in cities such as London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester.
He said: "Where people want to have their own private arrangements between them, that is a matter for them. But there is no place for Sharia law in British law."
Javid also expressed concern about allegations of a plot by Muslim radicals to "Islamise" state schools in Birmingham, the so-called 'Operation Trojan Horse' which is currently under investigation.
Javid is the first Asian male member of the Tory cabinet, after Baroness Warsi became the first Muslim female in her role as co-chairman of the Conservative Party.
Seniormost Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, stressed that Javid's comments did not represent anything new.
He told BBC: "It was a Labour government that introduced an English language test for those who wanted to get indefinite leave to enter the country.
"This is not new; it's just interesting because it's been said by the first Asian Cabinet minister. Politicians have been saying this of all parties. Of course we want people to learn English, of course we want people who come into this country to respect our values. We're not suggesting otherwise."
The interview comes a day after the 'Daily Mail' newspaper exposed an alleged scam that allowed migrants to buy crucial English language test certificates for 500 pounds on their path to British citizenship.
The Home Office is now investigation claims linked with the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualification, which tests speaking and listening skills and is compulsory for non-English speakers applying for citizenship.