UK citizenship test 'to cover Britain's greats'

A UK passport A modified exam for all those wishing to become a British citizen will come into force in March

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A new version of the test taken by foreign nationals who wish to become UK citizens "focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British", the Home Office has said.

The revised Life in the UK test covers topics as sport, music and history.

"Mundane" subjects such as water meters, job interviews and the internet have been stripped out, ministers said.

The Migrants' Rights Network said the test was "like an entry examination for an elite public school".

The new handbook, on sale from Monday, will form the basis of the modified 45-minute exam being introduced in March, which all those wishing to attain British citizenship must pass.

'Encourages participation'

The overhaul of the test is aimed at focusing less on the practicalities of daily living in Britain and more on the nation's culture and past.

Ten example questions offered by the Home Office include "which landmark is a prehistoric monument which still stands in the English county of Wiltshire?" and "what is the name of the admiral who died in a sea battle in 1805 and has a monument in Trafalgar Square, London?"

The Home Office said the test and handbook had been "completely re-written, removing questions on topics that those living in the UK should already be aware of like public transport, credit cards and job interviews".

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: "We've stripped out mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet.

"The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British. Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life."

He added: "This is just part of our work to help ensure migrants are ready and able to integrate into British society and forms part of our changes which have broken the automatic link between temporary and permanent migration.

Start Quote

It is very difficult to think that this is a positive move”

End Quote Don Flynn Migrants' Rights Network

"We have made radical changes to the immigration system and are determined to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands into the tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament."

'Absolutely right'

But Don Flynn, director of the Migrants' Rights Network, which campaigns in support of migrants in the UK, said: "This looks to us like a big step backwards from the concerns with integration which the government is supposed to have in this area.

"Naturalisation procedures have already been sharply criticised for coming up with tests which have very little to do with the things that most British people feel are important about their lives.

"Now the Home Office has come up with something that looks more like an entry examination for an elite public school. It is very difficult to think that this is a positive move."

However, Alp Mehmet, of the MigrationWatchUK think tank which is concerned about the scale of immigration into the UK, said the "underlying principle and thought process" behind the citizenship test was "absolutely right".

"People who want to come to live in this country should know a little about the country they're joining," he said.

More than 150,000 Life in the UK tests were taken nationally last year, with 77,000 of those in London.

Labour's Chris Bryant said the home secretary was "missing the point".

"Having a citizenship test that teaches people about life in the UK is important, but Theresa May has many other issues in her department that are far more important to focus on," the shadow immigration minister said.

"Rather than coming up with gimmicks, Theresa May should be spending her time sorting out the chaos at [the UK Border Agency] or finally finding a director general for UK Border Force. She should be focusing on fixing the big problems in her department not wasting time on rewriting the citizenship test."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    "This is beyond joke..
    History of Britian - With Empire/Slavery being absolutely white Washed..give urself a Pat on the shoulder britain - for brushing aside millions of slaves .."

    Well what do you want us to do? We've already wrongly apologized for something we didn't do (slavery), perhaps you'd like us to offer ourselves as slaves to the Africans as to settle our debt?

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    I've met "British citizens" who can barely speak English let alone answer test questions. A history test forces immigrants to read up on UK heritage and its state of mind, be aware and maybe get involved.

    But I think only those who plan to reside permanently should apply for citizenship! Problem now is, the government makes it expensive for people to remain here long-term and legally working.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    "No doubt the tax payer will have to pay to have this new book reproduced in 30 different languages. Probably some sort of breach of human rights if we don't."

    Unfortunatelly, the book is not free; and they have to pay 5 years tax for nothing to get this bloody citizenship.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    I got the question wrong about the age for serving on a jury. I agree with others that the questions should be more to do with peoples attitudes towards democracy, integration and freedom of expression. The history test is not that important. Also do the test questions change on a very regular basis to prevent cheating?

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    I am reminded of JFK's memorable inaugural address upon being elected President of the United States....."Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country". In the UK our government doesn't see the big picture here because they've got this the wrong way round. That's why we have an immigration problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    Question 3

    Does the Reigning Monarch (and Family) have Rights to interfere or influence elected Govt decisions ?

    A Yes

    B No

    ( Hint--- " The monarch alone appoints members of ..., the Order of the Thistle,...")

    Congratulations --you are now a British Subject !

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    I am surprised how many of us are so ignorant about immigrants. FYI, I am working in the UK as a Scientist for the last 5 years+ and I am NOT entitled to any state benefits other than NHS and this is clearly mentioned on my work permit. But I still pay the same tax and NI as everyone else. It is the asylum seeks who claim all kinds of benefits and we all get blamed for as immigrants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    It would be interesting to know how many of the people moaning about immigrants and benefits claimants would pass the test. I suspect many would do less well than those required to take it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    @385. What is wrong with an immigration check ?? Nothing. Only illegal immigrants won't like it. It's about time that people get checked so that the actual border laws can be enforced. Only criminals don't like the laws to be enforced. Stop the phony marriages, stop the phony student study visas, stop the phony certificates and licences, this is all crime !!! Honest people will support it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    365.Lindy Louise
    The proportion of the population contributing to the wellbeing of the UK is the point. The citizenship test is an attempt to encourage citizenship, that's all.
    A valid point, but I fail to see how knowledge of a highly selective batch of historical facts will assist in this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    Stop 'benefits immigration' now. Only take those who have a £25k+ PA job to come to, but stress that NO benefits etc will be offered to them. This country doesn't need the dregs we have been taking for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Surely, only one question is required:

    "How do you get to Mornington Crescent?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    77. AussieMatt - I totally agree - crazy, it's not right! But equally, Australia, Canada, US, New Zealand offer no warm welcome to British people - who I would say are the ones most likely to embrace life there. But instead they seem hell-bent on proactively creating multi-cultural lands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    Question - If Scotland gains indepedence and I subsequently moved to England (not likely) would I have to take the test and would Mr Cameron and his crew probably see me as an alien!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    378 darren

    I know that but the article says the new test "focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British", so I was pointing out that many of the 'indigenous' population would not know all the answers so how could it be appropriate.

    And there is such an industry protecting, supporting & encouraging immigrants, both legal & illegal, that a new approach is needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    "The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner."

    - The Pale Blue Dot

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    We must stop handing out citizenship to all & sundry as is killing the UK with over-population & immigration.
    'Indefinite leave to remain' as subject to not their comitting crimes & paying full UK taxes etc and paying for their own NHS care is all that foreigners need here.
    Giving all comers citizenship is 'nuts' - even highly skilled migrants do not need full citizenship just to work here

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    What "English" should we test? Queens English, Geordie, "estree" English? What is "THE British way of Life?" Grouse shooting, allotment gardens, Glastonbury festival, Sundays doing DIY, long hours in call centres or bankers bonuses?

    Gov't should stop rich Brits & tax dodgers from asset stripping the UK to offshore tax/retirement havens. Citizenship applicants are at least committing to the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    Reply to matchico
    As a French escapeee from France now domicile in the UK who now berates the Brits on these pages as racist. I remind you Churchill headed a nation that defeted one( with a puppet Vichy France) which would have put all black and coloureds to slave labour. Not PC but true.Hundres of thousends of Brits lost their lives saving the French from the Germans and don't you forget it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Citizenship is usually after working here for a minimum of 5 years. No one cares in those initial 5 years, who you are, what you are and if you are doing the right things to get fully integrated, but suddenly you are asked to take this 15minutes to 1 hour test to prove how much you have understood this country?


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