The Harrow West MP is alarmed by figures showing a steady decline in students obtaining GCSE qualifications in languages such as Gujarati and Urdu.

Figures obtained from the Department for Education shows than there has been an almost 77 per cent decline of students studying the Gujarati for their GCSEs since 2015, and over a 17 per cent decline in those studying Urdu over the same period.

The figures also show dramatic reductions in students obtaining Punjabi and Bengali GCSEs with an over 24 per cent and 43 per cent decline respectively.

Labour MP Gareth Thomas, who led a campaign to maintain GCSE and A-level language qualifications in community languages, requested the figures for languages including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese and others.

Harrow notably has a high range of ethnic minorities within the borough, with the 2011 Census results showing 26 per cent of the population were Indian – and the declining figures of students studying Indian languages is likely to strike their attention.

Worldwide, the four languages are believed to be spoken by around 480 million people, proving that the languages have a global significance.

In response to the declining figures, Mr Thomas said: “We are seeing a year-on-year decline in the number of students taking these languages as a result of the failure of ministers to invest in these languages.

“As we seek to strike trade deals around the world, in particular with large growing economies such as India British businesses cannot afford to be losing these important language skills.”

The MP wishes that the government invest in financial support for local communities and schools to teach these community languages.

He added: “Moreover, children learning these languages develop skills which help their performance in other parts of the curriculum.

Community efforts, through Temples and Saturday clubs, have been great at helping young people learn languages, but Covid has restricted these activities. I urge the Government to recognise the need to offer proper financial support to help local communities and schools to support young people learn these important languages.”

These figures come ahead of celebrations for Gujarat Day and Maharashtra Day (May 1) – the day that both states were formed.