UK Politics

Tougher English rules for immigrants on way - Cameron

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Media captionDavid Cameron: 'We should be putting in place tougher rules'

David Cameron has said too many children from immigrant families are not able to speak English when they start at school.

The UK must go further to ensure those settling learn English "so they can be more integrated into our country".

Asked about the issue at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron said the last government had made progress on the issue, but more had to be done.

He agreed parents should be responsible for making sure children speak English.

Conservative MP for Keighley Kris Hopkins asked if the PM agreed that there was "a responsibility and an obligation" on parents to make sure their children can speak English when they start school.

Mr Cameron replied: "I completely agree... in too many cases this isn't happening."

Since last autumn, people from outside the EU applying for a visa to join their spouse or partner now have to prove they have a basic command of English before their application is approved.

Previously, visa applicants had to show only that their marriage or partnership was genuine and that they could financially support themselves.

The prime minister told the Commons: "The last government did make some progress on making sure people learnt English when they came to our country, I think we need to go further.

"If you look at the figures for the number of people who are brought over as husbands and wives, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, we should be putting in place - and we will be putting in place - tougher rules to make sure they do learn English and so when they come, if they come, they can be more integrated into our country."

The weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions was dominated by foreign affairs with Labour leader Ed Miliband focusing all his six questions on events in Egypt and the UK's mission in Afghanistan.

Mr Miliband, who visited Afghanistan for the first time as Labour leader last week, paid an extended tribute to soldiers' work there, acknowledged the difference in the Commons session from the normal political point scoring.

Mr Cameron welcomed the opportunity to have a "serious conversation" about the work of British soldiers in Afghanistan, saying they wanted politicians to discuss their efforts, although he also noted many MPs often "preferred a bunfight" about domestic issues.