If you are thinking of taking driving lessons in Bedford, this information will be important to you if English is not your first language.
- More than a 1,000 licences have been scrapped since 2009 due to fraud
- Taxpayers have footed bill to tune of £250,000 a year
Learner drivers are to be banned from taking road tests in a foreign language to crack down on fraud and boost safety.
From early next year candidates will no longer be able to use prerecorded foreign language voice-overs – which are used to read out questions – or interpreters in theory and practical tests.
The decision by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin follows a spate of fraud convictions involving ‘back seat’ interpreters who help their clients cheat by using the foreign language to give covert coaching.
Ministers say allowing tests to be taken only in English or Welsh will also enhance ‘social cohesion and integration’ and cut costs.
Whitehall sources said the fraud scandal was ‘yet another problem the last Labour government failed to tackle’.
In 2007, Labour transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said of the interpreting scheme: ‘This system works well and we have no evidence to suggest that it is being abused.’
But since 2009 around 1,000 licences have been revoked due to fraud during tests.
Learners whose first language is not English or Welsh can currently request voice-overs in 19 languages for the computer-based theory test. Ministers say the service costs taxpayers £250,000 a year.
Where voice-overs are not available, candidates may use an interpreter.
Mr McLoughlin said requiring all tests to be in English or Welsh would ‘help ensure that all new drivers will be able to understand traffic updates or emergency information when they pass’.
He added: ‘It will also help us to reduce the risk of fraud by stopping interpreters from indicating the correct answers to theory test questions.’
By Ray Massey Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 01:21, 5 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:52, 5 October 2013