Britain: Immigrants are to be banned from taking the driving test in their native language amid mounting evidence that rogue translators are helping them cheat their way to a licence.
Government sources last night said that it would ditch the rules ‘within months’ that let learners sit the theory test in any of 19 foreign languages – including Urdu, Russian and Albanian – and ban translators who can currently sit in on the practical test to explain the examiner’s instructions.
Nearly 800 people have had licences revoked in the past two years, after investigations by the Driving Standards Agency uncovered evidence of rogue translators coaching learners during their test.
There are dozens more cases in the pipeline and nine translators have been struck off the approved list. A Department for Transport source said each investigation costs an average of £10,000 – and warned that the cases uncovered so far may be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Ministers are also concerned about the safety implications of handing driving licences to thousands of people who do not speak English and cannot read road signs.
In 2010, some 93,407 driving theory tests were sat in a foreign language. More than 1,500 people also took the theory test for a bus driver’s licence in a foreign language. Transport minister Mike Penning said the existing rules also acted as a disincentive for immigrants to learn English
He said: ‘This practice is wrong on many levels, and we are going to end it. It is very hard to fathom the logic of why it was ever allowed in the first place. Road safety should be our priority, not political correctness.
‘It cannot be right to be handing British driving licences to people who are unable to read warning signs flashed up on motorway gantries. There is also evidence of fraud. ‘But there is also a wider point about community cohesion – we should be encouraging people to learn English, instead of offering them ways to avoid it.’ Daily Mail