ALARMIST CLAIMS that many newcomers to the UK do not speak English have been undermined by an analysis of census figures for England and Wales.
Of 348 councils in those countries, 91 have a council ward (district) in which the populations of those with bad or no English comprise only about 5 per cent.
Even in the six least-English-literate wards in Newham, which has attracted a lot of settlement from the Indian sub-continent, almost 90 per cent of the population have some or good English ability.
Leicester, which has also attracted a lot of sub-continent migration, is another of 30 councils with similar levels.
Language still costs the taxpayer big numbers, finds the Times Data Team.
The British justice system spends about £40 million a year on translation services, councils about £20 million a year and the Department for Work and Pensions £5 million a year. The NHS also spends a lot on translation.
The 2011 census shows that 138,000 people in England and Wales speak no English.
Both figures are a tiny proportion of the total population, estimated as 56,567,800.
Keith Vaz (Labour) said that when people visited him in his Leicester East constituency he insisted they speak English. “This is England,” he added, “and it is clearly better for everyone if people can speak English.”
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said: “Speaking English is crucial… our society is weaker when people cannot speak the language.”
The Conservatives-Liberal Democrat Government has since January been considering ending the publication in foreign languages of benefits-application forms.
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* Picture at top shows a typical fabric display in Whitechapel. A facility in English is more prevalent than some observers have suggested.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.