Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Importing Expensive Problems

A clear need for government translation

Ministers are forever telling us about the massive economic benefits we get from immigration. The reality is rather different, as MigrationWatch and others showed long ago.

For sure, some immigrants generate big economic benefits, but many others impose costs (see this blog from Slough). And we've just learned more about another of them: the cost of translation services funded by the taxpayer.

According to a BBC investigation (a BBC investigation! it really is that appalling):

"The cost of translating and interpreting for UK residents who don't speak English is rising sharply.

Our research has identified expenditure of at least £100m in the past year, but the true figure is likely to be much more.

Local councils spend at least £25m; the police £21m; the courts system spends more than £10m without accounting for the cost of legal aid; and the NHS - a conservative estimate is £55m."

Obviously that's another £100m we wouldn't have to spend if we didn't allow immigration, but perhaps more tellingly it's £100m that's actually harming rather than helping the immigrants themselves:

"Agneska is a Polish civil engineer who has lived in Britain for three years but does not speak English... Now pregnant and unemployed, she was asking for advice on how to claim Jobseekers Allowance from an interpreter. Asked if the absence of such translation would have encouraged her to attend English classes, Agneska replied: "Absolutely, yes."

In Tower Hamlets in the East End of London, Bangladeshi human rights lawyer Zia Haider Rahman says the provision of translation and interpretation is damaging his community.
It is a corner of England where, he says, English is a foreign language. Shops, restaurants and the doctors surgery all cater for a population which speaks Bengali or Sylheti.

His community, he says, is put off learning English because the authorities translate everything for them. "They are doing harm because they are reinforcing the language barrier which separates this community from the rest of Britain. They are de-incentivising Bangladeshis from learning English".


Of course, Clever Trevor Philips- the man who told us not long ago that he and the entire multiculturalmumble elite had been wrong about... er, multiculturalism- reckons Zia's got it wrong. He reckons "Translation is not a disincentive. It allows them to get access to services while they learn English. Translation is a way of helping people into transition into integrating into our society."

Yeah. Right. And why should we listen to you exactly? (see this blog for more on Trev).

PS Always and everywhere, official translation services are a moneypit. As we blogged here, post-enlargement, the EU's translation services are now costing us £500m pa! And since everything has to be translated into all languages, and vice versa, the costs will increase in a terminal geometric progression as more countries join. By the time Libya and Iran join (you think I'm joking don't you), translation costs will absorb the whole of EU GDP.


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