London: In a bid to stop cheating, 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 helping people who cannot speak English cheat their way to a UK driving licence by telling them the answers to questions in both the theory and practical tests, the 'Daily Mail' reported on Sunday.
More than 850 test passes have been revoked since 2009, while nine interpreters have been banned. The UK currently provides the most generous driving test language system in Europe, with applicants able to take the theory test in no fewer than 19 languages besides English and Welsh, the report said.
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 pounds 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," Hammond said. Currently, one can ask for a voice-over in one of 21 languages if his/her first language is not English or if you can't read or understand written English well.
The 19 foreign languages allowed are: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Dari, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Kurdish, Mirpuri, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushto, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish and Urdu.