The UK needs a new cultural test for immigrants who want to live in the country permanently which would mean them knowing about Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale and the Battle of Trafalgar, it is claimed.
Those wishing to become British citizens would also have to know the first verse of the national anthem by heart and be aware of popular music such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as composers Elgar and Holst, politians have suggested and a draft handbook is being examined.
The test, aimed at encouraging migrants to integrate into society, will replace a citizenship exam introduced by Labour seven years ago which asked for knowledge of human rights, the European Union and how to claim benefits.
The Life in the UK test will ask about artists, poets and authors instead of asking about when women won the right to divorce or who gets free prescriptions.
It is part of a long term aim to make sure that immigrant can speak English and are familiar with the culture and history of the country.
‘Putting our culture and history at the heart of the test will help ensure those permanently settling can understand British life allowing them to properly integrate into our society,’ said a Home Office spokesman.
Many believe that the current test introduced when Tony Blair was Prime Minister was too multi cultural and based on the idea that migrant groups must be allowed to develop their own culture and that British history is tainted with racism.
Although background handbooks on citizenship had sections on British history, these were never tested. The new test will be based on a handbook which calls the UK ‘a modern, thriving society with a long and illustrious history’.
A draft includes information on the Duke of Wellington, Nelson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale, Alexander Fleming and Emmeline Pankhurst.
It also says that the UK is a Christian country, mentions the King James Bible and key battles and their dates have to be learned as well as passages of poetry including Browning’s Home Thoughts, from Abroad. Other poets include Byron and Blake and authors Jane Austin, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy.
‘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,’ the draft also says.
The numbers of people granted settlement have fallen since the Coalition came to power. In the 12 months to March this year there was a 35% all in settlement grants, from 226,478 to 148,144.