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Labour And Social Affairs Council

Volume 81: debated on Tuesday 25 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the European Community Labour and Social Affairs Council held in Luxembourg on 13 June.

I represented the United Kingdom at this Council, which reached agreement on seven proposals. The Council's conclusions on a programme of measures for employment make a number of sensible suggestions, particularly on the need for greater enterprise and more flexibility in the labour market. I welcome the conclusions on the statistical mechanism for the European social fund, which makes a sizeable contribution to employment and training schemes in the United Kingdom, the decision on the comparability of vocational training qualifications, which should help improve labour mobility within the Community and the resolution on guidelines for migration policy on which I reaffirmed our commitment to equality of opportunity.The Council agreed without discussion conclusions on the directive on the education of migrant workers' children, social security regulations and the recommendation on social protection for voluntary workers overseas, which recommends that cover for social security benefits and health care should not be prejudiced by voluntary service abroad.The Council agreed in principle the central issues of the draft directive on the protection of workers from noise. I made it clear that I would welcome early agreement to a directive setting out requirements to protect employees' hearing.The Vredeling, part-time work and parental leave draft directives were not taken any further forward. I maintained our reserve in principle on each and stressed that they were not appropriate areas for Community action at this time, the Council noted progress on the draft directive on equal treatment in occupational social security.I pressed the Commission to include the effect on small firms of the equal treatment directive in its examination of the burdens of Community legislation on firms.