Sajid Javid: 770,000 people in England not able to speak English
Communities secretary promises to expand teaching as he speaks of experiencing racist abuse
Sajid Javid has revealed that 770,000 people living in England speak hardly any or no English, in a personal interview in which he described his own experience as a “six-year-old interpreter” for his Pakistani mother.
The communities secretary promised to expand the teaching of English for immigrants as he warned that up to 70% of those unable to speak the language were women, and most of them were from Pakistani or Bangladeshi communities.
Speaking exclusively to the Guardian ahead of the publication of a government green paper that will pledge £50m to boost integration in Britain, Javid said that his mother’s decision to learn English 15 years after arriving in the country “transformed her life”.
He said it enabled her to work for the family clothing business, build a new network of friends, and – years later – meant she could speak freely with his wife, Laura, and her grandchildren.
No 10 to curb Sharia in push for integration
Muslim couples who have a Sharia wedding will be made to register their marriage in law under government plans to give greater rights to women.
Under the proposals an imam who presides at an Islamic wedding could face prosecution unless he ensures that it was registered beforehand or on the same day.
The change would allow women access to divorce courts if their marriage broke down, removing the need for them to petition a Sharia council, a group that adjudicates on Islamic law.
It is estimated that about 100,000 Muslim women who have gone through Sharia ceremonies in Britain are not legally married as their unions have not been registered. There are 2.7 million Muslims in Britain, 4.4 per cent of the population.
Anti-Sharia proposals will do little to integrate isolated communities
Briefing the cabinet last week on the latest strategy to encourage new arrivals in the UK to integrate, Sajid Javid did not shy away from citing his own background.
How is it, he asked, that one British Muslim lad born in Rochdale grew up to be a cabinet minister and yet another born at the same time ended up a radicalised, violent Islamist extremist?
Some may believe the question to be glib but coming from the man with the only non-white face around the top table it was also uncomfortable, and deliberately so. Sensitivities around what was once called “community cohesion” and is now termed “integration” remain acute in Whitehall so it is little surprise that the latest effort to promote it has been stuck in the system.