London, Jan. 20 (PTI): Britain is set to ban immigrants from taking driving tests in Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Kashmiri, Tamil, Urdu and 12 other foreign languages under new plans to be unveiled next month.
British transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin ordered the crackdown to stop rogue interpreters from helping people who cannot speak English to cheat their way to a UK driving licence by telling them answers to questions in the theory and practical tests, the Daily Mail reported today.
Over 850 test passes have been revoked since 2009, while nine interpreters have been banned.
The UK has the most generous driving test language system in Europe, with applicants able to take the theory test in 19 languages besides English and Welsh. Interpreters can be used to translate the examiner’s instructions in the practical test.
Roads minister Stephen Hammond said: “There are real safety risks that if people cannot understand the language, they cannot understand signs and other rules of the road.”
About 675 learners a week take the test with an interpreter in the back seat. A further 2,100 use them or rely on voice-overs for their theory exam, the Sun reported.
The free service, introduced by the Labour Party, costs taxpayers £250,000 a year.
Hammond has said he will launch a consultation this month. “This isn’t about saving money, it’s about cutting out fraud and making roads safer,” he said.
Manchester City star Carlos Tevez, 28, got a six-month ban last week after a court heard he did not understand that “constabulary” meant “police”.