8 December 2014
Boris Johnson: Scrap translation service for 'hopeless' women who can't speak English
Boris Johnson has said translation services for migrants can be "cut very comfortably".
The Mayor of London suggested native-language aids achieved the opposite of their intended aim by dividing communities in to "Balkanised little boxes"
Johnson said speaking English was the best way for migrants to build new lives in Great Britain in strong communities.
Speaking on LBC, the Tory politician blamed translation services and said: "You could very comfortably cut them."
Johnson was critical of "political correctness" for having a "totally disastrous" impact upon people coming from abroad to live.
Campaigners for migrants urged Johnson to "rethink" his stance on translation services.
He said: "One of the tragedies is that in London people over the last few decades had families for many generations and women in particular were not able to write or communicate properly in English. That seems to me utterly disreputable and hopeless.
"How can they engage in the economy of our country, how can they be active citizens and involved when they are unable to speak our language. It's totally disastrous policy.
"That was the multicultural agenda which was pursued for a very long time; the politically correct idea that you kept everyone segregated and kept everyone in Balkanised little boxes."
Johnson said City Hall under his regime "rarely used" translation services and cited changes in the field of education as the way forward.
Don Flynn, Director of the Migrants' Rights Network said: "Mayor Boris statement on this issue is very disappointing. If fails to acknowledge the fact that London owes so much of its dynamism to the diversity of its population and the huge range of languages that are spoken in its communities and workplaces on a daily basis, making it a global hub of choice for business.
"There are occasions when some people find it difficult to get across their needs to public services like schools, health service clinics and local government.
Translation services do not detract from people want to learn English but they do help ease contact between service providers and users."