HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 c800W
31. Mr. Rooney

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to offer language and citizenship education to those settling long term in the UK. [57078]

Beverley Hughes

It is the Government's intention to ensure that people applying for nationality, and some others in categories leading to settlement, have ready access to language and citizenship education. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill presently before Parliament makes provision for this. The Bill also provides for applicants to provide evidence of prior achievement, and for waiver of the requirement-to demonstrate competence in certain circumstances.

The purpose of these courses is partly to ensure that people entitled to work here should not be disadvantaged in the employment market by having an inadequate knowledge of English. Also, as part of a wider programme for integration with diversity and social cohesion, we want to encourage a greater sense of common citizenship by helping people gain a knowledge of parliamentary government, economic and social life.

A context-free course in English for Speakers of Other Languages was launched in February and the citizenship curriculum will be developed by a group of experts drawn from the fields of education and social cohesion.