London: The Mayor of London has said that everyone living in the UK should be able to speak English and councils should drop the "multi-culty" practice of translating information into other languages, a proposal that could hit non-English speaking immigrants residing in the country.
Mayor Boris Johnson said he agreed "passionately" with the suggestion by Nigel Farage, the Leader of the UK Independence Party, that National Health Service (NHS) staff ought to have a good command over the English language.
During his monthly LBC Radio phone-in show, Johnson was asked about the remarks by Farage, who at the weekend said he agreed that doctors and nurses who could not speak proper English should be "winnowed out" of the NHS.
"I agree passionately with you," he told a caller who said he shared Farage's view. "I am amazed by reports that people cannot make themselves understood when speaking English to people working in the NHS. That is completely wrong."
"I think everybody in this country, particularly people working in our public services, should speak English," Johnson said.
"I think we should have a culture in this country where you do what the Romans do and speak English," Johnson said
Johnson said there were parts of London, such as the borough of Tower Hamlets, where generations of immigrant families had failed to learn English, and, thanks to the availability of media in their own languages, never felt the need to change.
"People can be tuned into their own community and not feel the need to speak the common language of this city, of this country," he said. "This is a wasted opportunity for these people," Johnson said.
Saying there had been a "multi-culty" Balkanisation culture in the past in which councils translated all their publicity into English and children were taught in a variety of languages, Johnson went on: "I think that's a disastrous approach. We should be teaching, they should be learning, in English."
"I don't want to be hostile to speakers of other languages. Other languages are beautiful things, but this is a country that happens to speak English," Johnson said.
Over 7.5 million immigrants live in the UK constituting 13 percent of the total population, according to last year's census figures.