Migrants applying for a passport or driving licence will no longer be offered subsidised translation services, Nick Clegg has announced.
The move is designed to encourage them to learn English as “a common language is the glue that binds a society”.
The Deputy Prime Minister disclosed he had instructed Passport Office and the DVLA to scrap the translation service.
“Obtaining a passport and drivers' licence is a privilege and 'rite of passage' in this country,” he said.
“It is only right that someone gaining such rights should be able to speak English to an appropriate standard and I certainly don't think everyone else should pay for them to use an interpreter or translation service if they can't.”
In a speech designed to toughen the Liberal Democrat message on immigration, he called for tougher border controls to thwart illegal entrants, as well as moves to attract bright students from around the world.
He made the case for EU migration, arguing that freedom of movement between EU member states is a “cornerstone of European integration”. He said: “Those who wish to undo it should be careful what they wish for.”
Mr Clegg said: “An open economy, inclusive communities, freedom of movement, yes; freedom to claim, no. Proper controls without loopholes, border checks which count people out and count people in.”