Earned Citizenship

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:31 pm on 20th February 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Home Secretary 12:31 pm, 20th February 2008

I am sorry, but my hon. Friend appears to have missed the first sentences of my statement, in which I said, "Britain is a tolerant and fair-minded country. The British public know that carefully managed migration brings great benefits for the UK—economic, social and cultural."

My hon. Friend makes a point about the difference between the conditions of those who are coming from outside the EU and those of people who come from within. Of course, it is a good thing if those coming from within the EU are also supported to learn English, which helps them to integrate in communities. This condition is not some sort of punishment for people. If we want communities in which people can feel safe and secure and in which they can play their full part—I believe that my hon. Friend wants that as well—helping them and expecting them to speak our language are key parts of that.

There are different legal statuses for those coming from within the EU and from outside it, but I made it clear that I think that employers have a role to play and that there is probably more that the Government can do to encourage the learning of English among those coming from within the EU as well as those coming from outside.