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Do you know which 9th century Anglo-Saxon monarch defeated the Vikings?

The MRN phones have been ringing all day following this weekend's announcement that the Life in the UK test has been substantially rewritten. Applicants will now need to excel at history, culture and the arts...
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This weekend, the Home Office announced that it would be introducing a new version of the Life in the UK (LIUK) test for applicants from March 2013. Apparently this is part of government efforts "to help ensure migrants are ready and able to integrate into British society". Unfortunately the end result looks less like a serious policy aimed at supporting long-term integration, and more like a game of Trivial Pursuits with significantly more at stake than a piece of plastic cake.

Statue d'Alfred le Grand à WinchesterWe reported in July last year that government was proposing to make substantial changes to the Life in the UK test - taken by most people applying for settlement and/or citizenship in the UK. Since then, civil servants have worked up an extraordinary new set of questions for the test. The new handbook has been released for sale today, showing that applicants from 25 March 2013 will  be expected to know about 18th century industrialists such as Richard Arkwright and British painters, poets and musicians. They will be tested on the history of the UK from the Stone Age up to the present day. And they will need to know about garden design, architecture and medieval stained glass. 

To make way for the new questions, the government has chosen to take out the information and questions in the test which ensure that migrants have the full range of information at their fingertips about practical, everyday tasks. According to immigration minister Mark Harper, the test has been:

"completely rewritten, removing questions on topics that those living in the UK should already be aware of like public transport, credit cards and job interviews... The new book rightly focuses on the values and principles at the heart of being British. Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life".

This is a short-sighted development. If it serves no other purpose for migrants, the LIUK test is an opportunity to make sure that people settling here permanently have managed to pick up the everyday information that they need in order to go about their daily lives and settle in here in the long-run. Instead of promoting integration, the government has chosen to create a version of 'Britishness' which most Brits would view as baffling.

We can expect that most migrants will approach the new test as yet another necessary hurdle to overcome. Inspired by the goal of finally reaching a point of stability in the UK, most people will go the extra mile to learn the new information required of them and pass the new test. No doubt this development will continue to elevate migrants' knowledge of British history, culture and arts well beyond the level of the rest of the British public (polls suggest that 70% of Brits would not have passed the old test let alone the new one) - and will help to supply quiz shows with excellent candidates into the future.

But in the process it is making something of a mockery out of our naturalisation process.

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Comments

Not sure how such a question is relevant as the United Kingdom did not exist until 1707

Somehow they have missed out Wellie Wanging,Dwile Flunking,Morris Dancing,Poo Sticks and Gurning,These are the British ways of life,not what happened in 1066 etc:Knowing what a Scouser,Janner and a Geordie are, and where they come from would be of more benefit.Another load of tosh.

Somehow they have missed out Wellie Wanging,Dwile Flunking,Morris Dancing,Poo Sticks and Gurning,These are the British ways of life,not what happened in 1066 etc:Knowing what a Scouser,Janner and a Geordie are, and where they come from would be of more benefit.Another load of tosh.

Good for the government. We need to keep as many foreigners out of the uk as possible unless, of course they are professionals and we are in urgent need of their skills.

Im not being racist, for something needs to be done to damp down the outrageous continual stream of foreigners who only want to be here for what WE can give THEM.

I know that all the hand wringing Liberals will disagree with this stance but someone needs to stop it. Im no fan of Camerons crew and the way they intend to treat the disabilities benefits claimants this year, but on the immigration them, I agree with him.

I'm not accusing you of being racist, but something needs to be done about the amount of patience HAND WRINGING LIBERALS give to YOU.

Visa conditions like 'no recourse to public funds' has always taken care of your problems with immigration. Beyond that, the extent of your concerns is made up; by hand wringing nationalists.

Read more of this blog and less of the Daily Express before citing 'outrageous continual streams of foreigners'. Outrageous continual streams of over generalised anecdotes are a much greater threat to British society.

Kafur,
why do you not examine the facts before talking such nonsense ? Under the settlement visa rules , you are not allowed to claim benefits ! So your comment about " what we can give them " is based on what you read in anti immigration papers like the Daily Mail. They do not let the facts get in the way of a good story . So do some research before making your silly comments !

Karfur whats your take then on the Russian / and other, £millionaires being allowed visas into the UK buying up expensive London property, investing in buy-to-let, pushing up the price of property so Brits can't afford to buy and who it is reported have raised serious concerns with the security and other authorities that they may also be introducing the practises they have been used to in their own countries including elimination of their competitors.
Compare that with an honest Brit citizen who works lives meets overseas and falls in love with a spouse who then wants to return to and live in their own home and work in the UK who is self supporting works and pays their taxes and can fully support their spouse but who is denied a visa by the UKBA under Ms Mays new rules. How do you think that gells with British freedoms and democracy and the right of a British citizen to chose their own wife then?Because that is the reality of the policy Ms May has introduced which you support!

I wonder whether the civil servants have got the answers right this time? Didn't the previous version insist the date of Magna Carta was different from the real date and all sorts of other errors?

Personally, I think making immigrants aware that they are just the latest in a long line of people to come to the UK (especially England) since the last ice age is rather useful.

The old test was a failed socialist screed concocted by the late unlamented Sir Bernard Crick and tinkered with by David Blunkett. It asked applicants what percentage of the population is of Pakistani origin, how many MPs are in the commons, what year women got the vote and other such irrelevant nonsense - hardly the "everyday information that immigrants need in order to go about their daily lives."

I failed on the last test as I said I ignored trick or treaters - which I do because that has more to do with American lack of culture and nothing to do with Britain as it used to be!

This is just another element of the cynical May-Harper plan to make immigration and settlement as tortuous a process as possible with a view to getting net immigration down below their arbitrary threshold (they do like arbitrary thresholds, e.g. the MAC income threshold that takes no account of circumstances) in the hope of being re-elected by pandering to the large majority who have been brainwashed into thinking the country's supposed ills are all the fault of immigrants.

The UK is 'successfully' putting off and/or making life very difficult for foreign tourists, foreign investment, foreign students and foreign spouses - quite an 'achievement'.

Thank goodness the Lib-Dems finally stood up to their Tory bedfellows and refused to support the constituency boundary changes, thus reducing the chances of this nightmare administration having an extra five years to mess up decent people's lives.

You know what would be really useful? To have questions on how much wealth, resources, cultural heritage and labour have been sucked out of the world in order to make "Britain" so "Great." Or maybe the percentage of immigrants that end up on this island after their homelands have been made economic basketcases at the hand of City-based finance and mining, or UK-funded proxy wars. Also, perhaps something on how many years immigrants will have to work and pay into the national security system before they're rightly seen as contributors rather than scroungers. Are those the values the minister was speaking to? By the way, it was Alfred the Great - I just sat the damned test.

To participate in British life, first you have to get here, which of course May and Harper are making as difficult as possible. What hypocrisy!

My step son had his application for a visa rejected,because he was not a student,yet he applied for a visitors visa,My savings were not sufficient.As I had to completely furnish a two bedroom apartment even down to light bulbs.Then fund my wife`s visit to see her sick mother in China,£1,200.on top of which after nine years in China my pension was frozen for six months on my return,of course my savings were low.He had no proof of how he came by his money,all these concerns have now been addressed,and believe it or not,they have found another reason,which was not mentioned on his first refusal.He now has to wait to see if he can visit his mother,I am rather worried naturally,that every time he submits they may come up with yet another reason each time he applies,and fail to mention it.

I have just heard that the step sons visa applicatioin has been rejected a second time,but for different reasons than the first time.The UKBA make me sick,as he sent 82 pieces of paperwork addressed all their concerns,and they came up with an entirely different reason than he had for his first refusal I feel sure they are really after as much money as the can possibly make out of this.

One reason given being, you have not travelled very much.Strange I thought that the idea of a visa was so you would be able to do this.However we have now all decided it is not worth the hassle,and have all said they can stuff the UK.

One of the questions is: How tall is Big Ben?
If I wanted to be pedantic I could argue Big Ben is the bell not the tower.

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