Race report calls for oath of allegiance

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The Independent Online

Immigrants should have to swear an oath of allegiance to show their "clear primary loyalty" to Britain, a report into this summer's race riots said today.

The controversial suggestion in the Cantle Report, which was commissioned by Home Secretary David Blunkett, goes even further than Mr Blunkett's recent comments that new arrivals should learn English and adopt British "norms".

Today's report proposed basing a British oath on a version used in Canada.

It said the oath would include a clause pledging that "use of the English language ... will become more rigorously pursued".

It would also feature a commitment to tackle racism, said Ted Cantle, chairman of the Community Cohesion Review Team, which was set up after this summer saw the worst riots since the 1980s.

He added: "If we can engage in that proper national debate, it's something everybody should sign up to, but not necessarily in a sense of a formal signing of the document.

"I think it would apply to people who come to this country subsequently.

"There should be a clearer understanding of people's rights and also responsibilities."

Home Office minister John Denham, who chaired a cross–departmental group which examined the impact of the riots, said: "We have not made a commitment to a formal oath of allegiance, but we do want the debate to take place."

The report recognised the role of different cultures in modern British society, but added that it was "essential to agree some common elements of 'nationhood"'.

A new focus on the English language was not designed to limit the use of the scores of ethnic languages spoken in Britain today, it added.

"A meaningful 'concept of citizenship' needs establishing – and championing – which recognises the contribution of all cultures to this nation's development throughout its history, but establishes a clear, primary loyalty to this nation," said the report.

"This is, after all, the responsibility of citizenship and a clearer statement of allegiance, perhaps along the lines of the Canadian model, should be considered."

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