The test that's letting in one migrant every three minutes (and could you pass it?)
By JAMES SLACK
Last updated at 10:26am on 22nd January 2008
Every three minutes a foreigner is granted the right to become a British citizen or settle here.
Official figures show more than 13,000 a month now pass the controversial Britishness test – a rise of 50 per cent in a year.
Some countries have a 100 per cent pass rate for the exam, introduced three years ago to encourage migrants to learn our language and traditions. It must be taken by those who want either citizenship or permanent settlement.
However, even those countries with thousands of applicants, such as India, have a pass rate of almost 80 per cent.
The first country-by-country breakdown of pass rates also reveals that thousands of EU citizens, already free to live in Britain for life, are choosing to swop their passport for a British one.
They include 944 from Poland and 2,000 from the other seven former Eastern Bloc countries which joined the EU in May 2004.
Other EU citizens who passed the test between January and October last year, include 464 from France, 421 from Germany, 458 from Italy and 1,112 from Romania.
In total, 131,549 immigrants successfully took the exam in that time. For all of 2006, the total was just 105,402.
The 24-question quiz, which is multiple choice, takes 45 minutes. The pass mark is 75 per cent.
But those who fail can take it over and over again. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, have a “three-strikes-and-you're-out” policy.
The exam is based on a 145-page pamphlet called Life In The UK, written by the academic Sir Bernard Crick.
It includes a 25-page guide on events from our past, ranging from the Roman Conquest to New Labour.
MP James Clappison argues that immigrants should have to learn something about British history before being admitted entry into the country
However, there is no history section on the test. Officials ruled that there was too much history and it would not be fair.
Instead, the test is limited to subjects such as population, the constitution, Britain in Europe and the way Parliament works.
It includes questions on what benefits those in the UK are entitled to, and how to lodge a claim. Other subjects include the right to housing, healthcare and education, and equal rights and discrimination.
Officials had predicted a fall in the number of citizenship applications, as it was thought the test would put some off.
It was even suggested that some migrants had rushed through their applications prior to 2005, when the tests were introduced.
But an entire industry has now sprung up around the exam, with firms offering guide books on exactly how to pass.
The Home Office's Life In The UK, together with a further five manuals on how to pass the test, sold 138,000 copies last year.
It has left would-be migrants in no doubt how to score the 18 correct answers needed to pass – and applications have subsequently soared.
Last night, the high pass rate led to renewed concerns about the scale of immigration into Britain.
Tory MP James Clappison, a member of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: “People who come here should integrate into our society, so I welcome the fact that people are learning about our country.
“But I continue to have concerns about the volume of migration, and the strains which this is placing on public services.
“I personally also think it would be worthwhile for people to have to learn something about British history.”
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said the overall pass rate since the test was introduced was 67.5 per cent.
During 2007, the test had been extended from those wanting citizenship to include those wanting to stay here permanently, he added.
Some migrants are exempt from the test, including those with a poor standard of English.
Those in this group need only complete a free “skills for life” course at college.
They must prove to their tutor they have learned some English and understand the British way of life.
The Home Office said: “Liam Byrne has been travelling all over the country speaking to the public about what they think British values are.
“We will shortly bring forward policy in this area which will be informed by these conversations.”
Some Of The Questions In The Britishness Quiz:
(1) Which of these courts uses a jury system?
(a) Magistrates (b) Crown (c) Youth (d) County
(2) True or False?
Your employer can dismiss you for joining a trade union.
(3) Which two telephone numbers can be used to dial the emergency services
(a) 999 or 112 (b) 999 or 111 (c) 999 or any other digit dialed three times
(4) Which statement is correct?
(a) A TV licence is required for each TV in a home (b) A single TV licence covers all TV's in a home.
(5) What is the minimum time you must have been married before you can divorce?
(a) Six months (b) One Year (c) Two years
(6) Where does Father Christmas come from?
(a) Lapland (b) Iceland (c) The North Pole
(7) What should you do if you spill someone's pint in a pub?
(a) Offer to buy the person another pint. (b) Dry their wet shirt with your own. (c) Prepare for a fight in the parking lot. (d) Ignore it.
(8) Who or what is PG?
(a) A brand of tea (b) Parental Guidance: a film classification where some scenes are not suitable for children (c) A Personal Guide, a British-born mentor provided to each immigrant applying for nationality
(9) By what factor do the native-born English outnumber their Scottish or Welsh neighbours? (a)By nine to one (b) By seven to one (By six to one (d) By 100 to one
(10) Britain is famous as a nation of animal lovers. In law, what must dog owners do?
(a) Get a dog licence (b) Get their dog neutered. (c) Get a collar with the owner's name and address
(11) What is the voltage in British homes?
(a) 110 volts (b) 220 volts (c) 260 volts
(12) How old must you be to buy a lottery ticket?
(a) 21 (b) 18 (c) 16
More immigrants are heading to Britain after EU extended border-free zone eastwards, German police warn