As Daily Mail readers await with dread (or is it relish: something else to hammer the government with?) their newspaper's prediction of the arrival of up to 29 million (slightly more than the combined populations of both countries) migrants from Bulgaria and Romania on 1st January, here are a few examples of the kinds of questions they will be required to answer in the event they wish to become citizens:
- How many members are there in the National Assembly of Wales?
- Within what period of time must a baby be registered with the Registrar?
- When did the Church of England come into existence?*
- When is the National Day of Scotland?
- What percentage of children in the UK live with their birth parents?
- What percentage of England's population is made up of ethnic minority groups?
- How many constituencies are there throughout the UK?
- How many days a year must a school open?
- When was the Northern Ireland parliament established?
- How many years must have passed before an individual's census form is viewable by the public?
In actual fact very few immigrants from Romania, Bulgaria or anywhere else in Europe will apply for or even want citizenship (or even welfare benefits.) Most will be young, highly qualified, and healthy, and will return to their country of origin, probably with a well-earned nest-egg to set up a business or household once their adventure is over.
It would be interesting to know how many of we "natives," Daily Mail readers or not, would actually qualify for citizenship if we had to take the test.
* It seems to be that none of the options given for this questions (1640s; 1530s; 1440s; 1750s) are correct. St Augustine landed in Kent to "convert" us in 597, but of course the Christian religion was already here, probably brought by merchants in the 3rd Century. St Alban, our first recorded saint, was martyred at the end of that century (283, though St Bede, our first historian - the Venomous Bee of 1066 and All That fame - dates it at the beginning of the next, 305).
I suppose you could argue that England as such didn't exist in those high and far off times (the various different kingdom were not united until Egbert of Wessex became King of All England in 829,) that these examples represent represent the Christian church in bits of what was to become England, and that the Church of England dates from the Reformation in the 1530s, but that, in my view, is to give a misleading impression.
Multiple choice questions open up a minefield, as I discovered when they were introduced in A-level economics examinations.