London: A test that all immigrants have to pass before being allowed to settle permanently in the UK is to be revised to include more questions on British history and knowledge about key personalities such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Edward Elgar.
Called 'Life in the UK Test', the mandatory 45-minute test was introduced by the Labour government in 2005, testing the knowledge of immigrants about history, customs and practicalities in Britain.
It is a test that challenges British citizens, with many admitting that they would fail, but most immigrants clear it.
As part of moves to curb immigration, the David Cameron government is scrapping some sections and introducing new ones to include knowledge of the first verse of the national anthem and key historical facts about Britain before immigrants can settle permanently or become British citizens.
The Sunday Times today reported that Home Secretary Theresa May is scrapping sections on how to claim welfare payments and merits of the Human Rights Act, and including sections on knowledge of British inventions, famous battles and English poetry.
The weekly reported that in a section on culture, new immigrants will be told for the first time that "historically, the UK is a Christian country". The draft of the handbook is to be published in the autumn.
In a section seen as an 'explicit attack on Islamic fundamentalism', the draft reportedly states that there is "no place in British society for extremism and intolerance" and provides a list of criminal offences that migrants will have to memorise.
The test in its present form has been criticised for including too much content on making claims on welfare and borrowing money.
It has sections regarded by the Cameron government as irrelevant, covering "everyday needs" such as how to read a gas meter, obtain home contents insurance and dustbin collections.
The Sunday Times reported that May and other ministers believed that such points were trivial. Their version of the test is to focus on the essentials of Britishness, including knowing the first verse of the national anthem, it said.
The Home Office said: "It's a move away from the old one - stuff on rights, practical info that has little to do with British culture - to one that is clear about responsibilities and requires people to have a grounding in our history."
The new guide will say: "Britain is proud of being a welcoming country but all residents, regardless of their background, are expected to comply with the law and to understand that some things which may be allowed in other legal systems are not acceptable in the UK. Those who do not respect the law should not expect to be allowed to become permanent residents in the UK."
Some questions currently asked in the test are: Is this statement TRUE or FALSE: in the 1980s, the largest immigrant groups were from the West Indies, Ireland, India and Pakistan.
First Published: Sunday, July 01, 2012, 14:49