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Migrants MUST learn English, demand MPs: Integration to start on DAY ONE of entering UK

In a hard-hitting report, a cross-party parliamentary group called for newcomers to be expected to study the language before coming to the UK or to be enrolled in compulsory classes on arrival.

And it accused the Government of failing to have a national strategy for integrating migrants.

The scathing criticism of the failure of past migration policies came in a report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, we must develop a new approach to immigration

Labour MP Chuka Umunna

But the informal grouping of members of the Commons and Lords also came under fire last night for calling for migration levels to be set by regional authorities and devolved administrations rather than by the Government.

The move, which could mean the Scottish Government or the London Assembly getting powers to set migration levels, was condemned as a recipe for “chaos”.

The report from the All Party Group on Social Integration said speaking English was “the key to full participation in our society and economy”.

“The APPG believes that all immigrants should be expected to have either learned English before coming to the UK or be enrolled in compulsory Esol (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes upon arrival,” said the report.

It highlighted a recent investigation by Government adviser Dame Louise Casey which warned that poor English skills were a barrier to integration for many migrants.

“As was acknowledged by the Casey Review, speaking English is the key to full participation in our society and the economy, and is a prerequisite for meaningful engagement with most British people,” the report said.

Louise Casey receiving her honourGETTY

Dame Louise Casey’s review showed that language was one of the largest impediments to integration

“The APPG would, therefore, urge the Government to markedly increase ESOL funding as well as explore innovative policy ideas to increase the availability and take-up of English language classes.”

The report went on to urge the Government to reassess the current “one size fits all” approach to immigration policy and consider reforming the system to more actively shape immigrant settlement patterns within the UK.

“Through the introduction of policies aimed at directing population flows to areas of the country which require higher levels of immigration or do not currently attract a great many immigrants, policymakers might minimise strain on public services and on community relations whilst bolstering regional economies,” the report said.

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The APPG are calling for the government to revise their ‘one size fits all’ immigration policy

It suggested that a devolved or regionally-led system could draw on the model used in Canada, where provincial governments can set region-specific requirements for immigrants.

The paper raised the prospect of region-specific visas with quotas for their dissemination agreed by devolved administrations or city regions.

The APPG also called for:

  • A new national Government strategy for the integration of immigrants including issues such as access to the labour market and awareness of the UK’s laws, traditions and culture;
  • Councils to set up local integration action plans and the immediate introduction of an Integration Impact Fund;
  • The Home Office to investigate whether new immigrants could be placed on pathways to citizenship automatically upon arrival.

Immigration OfficeGETTY

The group called for some immigrants to be placed on pathways to citizenship immediately on arrival

Net migration to the UK has been running at or close to record levels of around a third of a million – well above the Government’s target of below 100,000.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Social Integration, said: “It’s clear that immigration has impacted on different communities in different ways and the pace of change has alarmed many.

“The Government has a duty to address the lack of integration of immigrants if it is to address this.

Chuka UmunnaGETTY

Chuka Umunna called for a ‘middle way’ to bisect current approaches to immigration in Europe

“Failing to do so has left a vacuum for extremists and peddlers of hate to exploit.

“We now need a meaningful integration programme which works for all parts of the UK and an immigration policy which allows all to celebrate and look beyond our differences – a middle way between the laissez-faire multiculturalism favoured by successive British governments and the assimilationist politics of the French Burkini ban.

“In the wake of the Brexit vote, we must develop a new approach to immigration which works for everyone in our country and helps us rebuild a divided nation – a system with integration at its heart.”

Jon Yates, of The Challenge, called on the Government to consider the recommendations in the report, adding: “It is no longer enough to focus solely on the numbers of immigrants arriving in the UK, while ignoring what happens to them and their host communities after arrival.”

But the think tank Migration Watch last night raised concerns about the idea of a regionally-set migration system.

Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of the think tank Migration Watch, said: “If I had to come up with a system to make immigration control more complex and even more difficult than it is, as well as boost the inflow of migrants, this would fit the bill perfectly.

“Such a system would be totally unmanageable and lead to chaos.

“By all means, help migrants to integrate but not by regionalising immigration policy, which is much more likely to have the opposite effect.”

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The Ukip immigration spokesman said that immigration control is more important than integration

Ukip immigration spokesman John Bickley said: “While we whole-heartedly support the idea that migrants need to learn the English language, we believe that, in most cases, this should be self-funding.

“However, no matter how many deckchairs Chuka tries to move on his personal Titanic, unless we deal with the issue of mass uncontrolled migration no amount of effort at integration is going to have any serious impact.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Our country has long been home to lots of different cultures and communities, but all of us have to be part of one society — British society.

Migrants learn GermanGETTY

The government responded by rolling out a £20m fund for English language teaching

“That is why we are rolling out a £20 million fund for English Language provision and have also made £140 million available through the Controlling Migration Fund to local authorities to manage impacts on communities caused by issues such as poor English language skills.

“However, we must also recognise that uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion and puts pressure on public services.

“Our priority is to build an immigration system that works for everyone in the UK and delivers the control we need.“