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Foreign learner drivers face translator ban



Ministers have decided to introduce the ban from early next year following a public consultation.

Candidates can currently request pre-recorded voice­overs in 19 different languages for computer-based theory tests.

They can also have approved interpreters helping them in theory and practical tests. Announcing plans to end the concession, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We want to make sure all drivers have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly.

“One way we can do this is by requiring all candidates to take the test in English or Welsh.

“This will help to ensure that all new drivers will be able to understand traffic updates or emergency information. It will also help us to reduce the risk of fraud by stopping interpreters indicating the correct answers to theory test questions.”

More than 70 per cent of the public backed the idea, saying poor language skills could leave drivers unable to understand road signs or read the highway code.

Encouraging candidates to learn English would also improve their ability to integrate into society, as well as saving taxpayers £100,000.

The move will also prevent rogue interpreters helping candidates cheat by giving them extra help on top of simply translating theory test questions or examiners’ instructions.

Some 1,000 driving licences have been revoked since 2009 because of evidence of cheating in tests and at least nine official interpreters have been banned.

Two Chinese interpreters were recently jailed for 12 months each and another is on police bail.

Deaf candidates will still be allowed to use sign language in their tests