L-test interpreters to be banned

By DAVID WOODING

IMMIGRANTS will be banned from taking driving tests in foreign languages in a bid to wipe out cheating.
Nearly 900 have had their licences revoked after being told what to do by rogue translators.
Ministers fear there are many more and will ditch rules which let learners sit the theory test in any of 21 languages.
They are also concerned about handing licences to thousands of people who can’t speak English or read road signs.
Drivers can get translation into a range of languages, including Polish, Punjabi, Arabic, Tamil, Urdu, Mirpuri and Albanian.
By contrast, motorists in France can take their test in only one language – French.

Rogue

About 675 learners A WEEK take the the British test with an interpreter in the back seat.
A further 2,100 use them or rely on specially-made voiceovers for their theory exam.
The free service, introduced by Labour, costs taxpayers £250,000 – plus £10,000 for every “cheat” inquiry.
But ministers are to ditch it after nine rogue interpreters were struck off in the past two years.
They were caught coaching drivers during their test or even giving them the answers in the theory.
Dozens more are under investigation for a scam which is feared to be widespread.
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond wants to ban interpreters from all sections of the driving test.
He fears too many learners are being given a licence before they are fit to get behind the wheel alone.
It would also help immigrants to integrate more by ensuring they learned English.
L_plates3Mr Hammond said: “This isn’t about saving money, it’s about cutting out fraud and making our roads safer.
“We have seen too many interpreters helping people pass their test when they are clearly not up to it.
“It’s also common sense to expect people to understand road signs if they are going to drive on our roads.”
Manchester City star Carlos Tevez got a six-month driving ban last week after a court heard he did not understand the word “constabulary” meant “police”.
Mr Hammond will launch a consultation this month about banning all voiceovers and interpreters on theory and practical tests.

ENDS

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Welcome to GB…I’m GB!

By DAVID WOODING

DAVID Cameron’s glamorous aide Gabby Bertin turned strike-buster today as she helped man Britain’s borders at Heathrow.

Political hacks feared she had joined the walk-out by civil servants when she failed to take her usual seat in the Commons gallery for PM’s questions.

But it later emerged his Press Secretary was among the army of volunteers checking passports and running immigration controls at the country’s top airport.

Gabby Bertin with Mr Cameron.

Dark-haired Gabby, 32, a popular figure in Westminster, would no doubt grant a welcoming smile to those arriving in the UK for the first time.
But journalists can vouch she is also a tough cookie who would have no truck with anyone who steps out of line.

During her single shift, she had cause to quiz one arriving passenger over her travel documents.

A colleague revealed: “She pressed this woman quite closely because she felt her passport didn’t pass the Bertin test.”

Gabby Bertin – affectionately known as “Berters” in the lobby – joined Tory campaign HQ straight from university and has worked for Mr Cameron since his leadership campaign in 2005.

She has worked for David Cameron since his leadership campaign in 2005 and has since been described as one of the most powerful women in Whitehall.

Number 10 confirmed “a handful” of staff working directly for the PM were among 125,000 civil servants who joined the strike over pensions.

Low risk

Mr Cameron asked members of his policy unit to do their bit to keep Britain’s gateway open during the 24-hour stoppage.

Later there were reports that Gabby had been spotted manning a passport control desk at Terminal One. She was given two days’ training in border security last week and learned how to check passports of passengers arriving on “low risk” flights.

Mr Cameron told the Commons the signs were that contingency measures were minimising the impact of the strike and branded the action a “damp squib”.

Passengers arriving told how they expected long queues but waltzed through the airport in minutes.
It’s not clear how senior a role Gabby was given but she’s renowned for her calm efficiency. Downing Street said it was unlikely she would accept a shift payment even if she was offered it.

Gabby’s used to working in the top-flight – and is definitely here for the long haul.

Theresa’s got her claws out for boss cat Ken

By DAVID WOODING in Manchester

KITTEN-heeled Theresa May got in a right cat flap with Cabinet colleague Ken Clarke today – over the Human Rights Act.

The Home Secretary had her claws out after he poured scorn on her claim that an illegal immigrant dodged a deportation order to look after his pet pussy.

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Home Secretary Theresa May chats to David Wooding in her office.

Mrs May had seized on the story to highlight her opposition to the controversial laws in a speech to the Tory conference in Manchester.

She won a standing ovation when she told of “the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I’m not making this up – he had a pet cat.”

But moments later, Cabinet top cat Mr Clarke stamped all over her claim with his size 11 Hush Puppies by claiming she had over-hyped the story.

The Justice Secretary declared: “I will have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of a cat.

“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out. I cannot believe anybody has ever had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat.”

He later quipped: “I heard Theresa refer to it and I sat there with a Victor Meldrew reaction. I thought… I can’t believe it.”

Mrs May was privately furious at the cat-astrophic intervention by Mr Clarke, who’s had a ban run of his own over his “soft” stance on prison sentences.

It was the fist Cabinet bust-up since the rally opened on Sunday and tonight both sides were hurling details of the case at each other to defend their corner.

A Home Office source said the case highlighted how illegal immigrants were taking the Act to extremes by exploiting the section which gives them a right to a family life.

Claws out: Ken Clarke

Mr Clarke, who is due to receive a recort on the European Convention on Human Rights,  said the Home Secretary had failed to consult him before making her remarks.

He said: “When I found out what these examples are that have upset her, I will probably find that she agrees with me. It is these daft misinterpretations of the Act which are giving the whole thing a bad reputation, when we should be a force in favour of human rights and individual liberty in the modern world, not in any way resiling from it.”

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