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New UK citizenship test to start on 1 Nov

When were all 18-year-olds given the right to vote in the UK? In which order in the calendar do the four UK national saints’ days fall? Now dozens of immigrants keen to make the UK their permanent home will have to answer questions like these to prove they are suitable citizens.

As of November 1, anyone wanting to apply for British citizenship will have to answer a quiz drawn up by the Government.

Based on the 150-page Life in the United Kingdom guide, the test questions would-be citizens on history, law, society and manners in the UK. It is hoped the test will encourage people to take a greater interest in their community, and help them to settle in better.

Cllr Harmesh Lakhanpaul, chairman of the Peterborough Racial Equality Council (Prec), said: "I think the aim of the test is laudable. It’s helping people to understand the society they’re going to be a part of and be aware of their roles, their rights and their responsibilities, and that will certainly help towards integration.

"Any understanding of the way that British society works is a good thing."

But Cllr Lakhanpaul expressed some concern at the content of the test, which has been criticised for being too tough and as confusing for born and bred UK citizens as for newcomers.

Cllr Lakhanpaul said: "Some of the questions you do look at and wonder how many people who are actually born here, and have gone through the schooling system here, will have knowledge of them. I imagine there is a gap of knowledge in terms of rights and responsibilities within existing society as well. I’m sure people who have been brought up here would still be struggling with those questions."

Cllr Lakhanpaul said the Prec has been met with a huge workload as many people try to get their citizenship applications processed before the test becomes mandatory in three weeks’ time.