Kelly attacks translation materials

Ruth Kelly has spoken out against translation materials
Ruth Kelly has spoken out against translation materials

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly has said she believes translation for immigrants hinders their integration into British society.

Speaking on the BBC's Politics Show, she suggested translating official publications for subjects like public health made it easier for non-English-speaking immigrants to delay learning the language.

She pointed to research showing that immigrants who fail to learn English in their first six months in Britain are unlikely to do so at a later date.

"Translation's been used too frequently and sometimes without thought for the consequences," Ms Kelly explained.


"Materials are routinely translated into their mother tongue and therefore [immigrants] not have the incentive to learn English," she added.

Her claims were rebuffed by Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain, who told BBC News 24 he believes providing translated materials frequently helps newly-arrived immigrants become they become better citizens and less of a burden on society.

"Sometimes if you do not provide that material. they will remain isolated," he warned, adding that those who remain unaware of government initiatives "will not be able to contribute in a positive way".

Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis said his party had proposed in January shifting money currently spent on translation into additional English classes.

He said those coming into the country to get married "should have basic language skills so that they can play a full part in British life".

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