Surjeet Kaur must know English to emigrate to UK: Straw
Straw has asked Asian women seeking emigration to UK to learn English.Updated: Mar 08, 2007, 17:08 IST
Leader of the House of the Commons and former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw has asked Asian women seeking emigration to Britain to learn English.
Straw said the ability to speak English should be a prerequisite for Asian women wanting to settle in Britain, adding that an immigration procedure that necessitated speaking English was "one of the things we (the government) should be looking at" to foster Asian women's integration into wider society.
The statement is significant as only last autumn Straw waded into the debate over whether Muslim women should wear the veil.
His statement is also the second call from Government sources in quick succession to abandon the seemingly discredited policy of multiculturalism, whereby immigrant communities are encouraged to pursue separate development.
Last month, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly's Commission on Integration and Cohesion said that men or women arriving in Britain as spouses of those already here should be tested on their mastery of the language.
Straw told a conference in his Blackburn constituency: "One of the things we should be looking at is the subject of Asian women speaking English and whether we need to engage them and require them to speak English before they are given a settlement visa."
He also singled out Muslims as a group isolated from the rest of society compared with other immigrants.
"There is a big cultural divide between Muslims and the rest of us, more than, say, with the Afro-Caribbean community," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
Blackburn councillor Yusuf Jan-Virmani while welcoming Straw's comments, warned against singling out Asian women.
"I support doing something about it because it is important that people can speak the language when they go to the doctor or go shopping. There is an issue with people coming from India and Pakistan, but we also have Poles not speaking English.
They all should learn our language before they come," he said.
Anjum Anwar, of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, added: "Of course Jack wants everyone to learn English, but the Government is about to demolish funding for English classes. It's all very well demanding something from the public but not supporting them".