Eric Pickles has provoked criticism from Labour party members owing to his ‘choice of words’ when raising the issue of how important it is for UK Immigrants to learn English language skills. The Communities Secretary was speaking about the Government’s ‘integration strategy’, which was implemented last month, and urges UK Immigrants to speak English as frequently as possible.
Whilst making reference to the strategy, Mr Pickles warned that Immigrants that were unable to speak English ‘like a native’, faced the prospect of life in the UK as an alienated ‘sub-class’, with no prospects of employment and being reduced to living in ghettoes.
Whilst being interviewed by House Magazine, Pickles stated: “in terms of wanting people, encouraging people, to be part of British society, they can’t do that unless they have more than an understanding of English. If we don’t get our resident population with an understanding of English, then they become a sub-class … virtually unemployable or stuck in a ghetto. We should not be turning people out of our schools who aren’t able to speak English like a native.”
However, one critic of Pickles’ comments, Hilary Benn, the Shadow Communities Secretary, reacted by saying: “Mr Pickles should be coming up with ideas on practical ways for Immigrants that come to settle in the UK to learn English, rather than confining them to sub-classes and ghettoes.”
During the interview with House Magazine, Mr Pickles had also confirmed that there would be £10 million available in order to promote the teaching of English. Pickles highlighted that he is determined to see “real integration, providing a platform for people to network and engage in events outside of their ethnic groups.”
Pickles admitted that his own personal background had influenced many of his views on UK Immigration and integration. Mr Pickles had grown up in Bradford, which was recently the subject of a Channel 4 documentary, raising issues on UK Immigration and integration. Since that time, Pickles has strongly fought to see discrimination outlawed in Britain and stated: “nobody in the UK should feel frightened, they should be comfortable in their neighbourhoods and I will do everything I can to avoid sub-class and ghetto groups from forming by encouraging real integration.”