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Parental And Family Leave

Volume 87: debated on Tuesday 26 November 1985

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10 pm

I beg to move,

That this House takes note of European Community Documents Nos. 11118/83 and 10681/84, draft Directive and amended draft Directive on parental leave and leave for family reasons; endorses the Government's view that these matters are best pursued by voluntary negotiations between employers and employees; and welcomes the United Kingdom's endeavours to encourage instead Community initiatives which enhance job prospects for men and women.

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

The Department's explanatory memoranda which are before the House set out the background to this evening's debate. The draft directive seeks to create an entitlement for parental leave, and leave for family reasons, which would be harmonised throughout the Community. Both forms of leave will be an individual entitlement for both men and women. The proposal would give all employees an individual right to a minimum of three months' parental leave to be taken during the first two years of a child's life and a minimum number of days' leave per year for pressing family reasons. The proposal is intended to enable a working parent to stay at home to look after a child. It would require that any allowance paid during parental leave should be met from public funds and no level of allowance is specified.

The Commission's main aim in bringing this proposal forward is to promote equal opportunities by making it easier for women to combine work and childcare and to encourage men to play a greater role in looking after children. The Commission also believes that it will assist the development of its family policy, one aspect of which is to improve facilities for care of children of working parents. Finally, it believes that by reorganising working time it will contribute to a reduction in unemployment.

It is our view that Community legislation to impose parental leave is not necessary for the promotion of equal opportunities, for two reasons. First, reconciling child care with employment is not a problem to which there is a single solution suitable to be imposed by legislation. Indeed, there are a number of possible solutions, and parental leave itself is only a temporary and partial one. Other solutions include day nurseries—whether public, private, or provided by the employer—childminders, child minding by relatives, part-time work, and shared childminding among friends and neighbours. For the same reasons universally imposed parental leave arrangements are not essential to promote family life.

Before my hon. Friend goes on to the merits or lack of merits of the proposal it seems that he is talking about Community family policy. Did we join a European family and has it got any legal status in this issue? There is some dispute about this. The European Legislation Select Committee asked whether the Community had any legal competence to have a policy in this area. What is the Government's view? Is the Community legally competent to proceed with policies in this area? If the Government are not convinced of the Community's legal competence, what will the Government do about this?

The simple answer to my hon. Friend is that there are differing views on the Community's competence. It will fall within the first part of article 100, as my hon. Friend will know. The Government propose to take part in this debate and to listen to the views expressed in the House and then I shall reply to the debate if I catch Mr. Deputy Speaker's eye. Parental leave is fundamentally different to maternity leave, where the physiological fact of childbirth creates a specific need for withdrawal from work. Like the other arrangements I have mentioned, parental leave can have a role to play, but the benefit which it brings is confined to the relatively short period of the leave itself. When parental leave is over, the needs of the child and the requirements of the job remain.

The second reason why we do not believe that the proposal promotes equal opportunity is that, to ensure that the arrangements are not discriminatory, it is not necessary to establish at Community level specific leave entitlements that must apply in all undertakings regardless of circumstances. In that respect, it is no different from many other important aspects of employment such as recruitment, and promotion procedures. There does not have to be a rigid formula for each of them at Community level to prevent discrimination. All that is necessary is that general anti-discrimination measures should apply.

It is widely recognised in Europe that the United Kingdom has a good record on equal opportunities. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 is now supplemented by the Equal Opportunities Commission's excellent code of practice of 1985, which has the full backing of the Government, employers and trade unions. It ensures that personal leave arrangements and child care are addressed adequately by the United Kingdom's equal opportunities measures.

It is also argued—no doubt it will be by supporters of the amendment—that the draft directive offers new opportunities for work sharing as a solution to changing domestic circumstances. It is counter-productive to try to fight unemployment by imposing working arrangements on employers and employees that might not suit them and which they might not be able to afford. Many women who return to work after maternity absence are already able to go part-time so as to spend longer at home. Our job splitting scheme encourages that. It applies equally to a father or anyone else who decides to spend more time at home for whatever reason. Employers are increasingly recognising the benefit of job splitting, not least because of the grant of £840 available for taking on an unemployed person for the other half of a job.

Such voluntary arrangements would lose their attraction and flexibility if they were imposed without due regard to the costs and the longer-term viability of the parents' job. The proposal is unnecessary and would be damaging for four principal reasons. First, these matters are best dealt with between employers and employees according to their priorities, needs and circumstances and what they can afford. Secondly, the draft directive would impose minimum, but not harmonised, conditions of employment more favourable than currently exist in any member state. It is a piece of social engineering rather than a genuine proposal for harmonisation. Thirdly, implementation of the directive would give a wrong signal to the labour market, as it would add to employers' costs and increase the administrative burden on them, thereby damaging competitiveness and hindering the key task of reducing unemployment. Fourthly, in so far as the draft directive would create costs that would fall on public funds, the Government do not consider that such expenditure is, or is likely to become, a priority over other more pressing demands on such funds. This is not the right time to give extra rights to people in jobs at the expense of the unemployed.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, irrespective of egality, article 100 and harmonisation, unless there is a fixed statutory limit which provides rights that may be taken up, the power of employers will be too great? Irrespective of the source of the legislation, will the hon. Gentleman agree the value of that principle?

The hon. Gentleman tempts me into broader considerations, some practical others philosophical. I prefer to wait until the end of the debate to see whether the matter comes up more generally or more specifically.

The Social Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg in June referred the draft directive back to its working group for further consideration. There have been regular discussions and negotiations about the text of the proposal in Brussels during the past few months. When the Department announced its consultation exercise earlier this year, it referred to several areas of the basic proposal that had been suggested in the Council machinery—member states might restrict parental leave to the period immediately following maternity leave, parental leave might take the form of an entitlement which parents could allocate between themselves as they wished, there might be a safeguard to enable employers to refuse or to defer leave in cases of serious difficulty with the undertaking, there might be a threshold excluding small and medium-sized firms from the proposal.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way again and apologise for coming back to him. Perhaps he will clarify a point. There are people on hourly pay and people on salaries. Will the Government come forward with an allowance for those on hourly pay? After all, the firm does not have to pay them. Will those on salaries lose that part of their salaries while they are taking parental leave? Will it be one rule for those on salaries and another for those on hourly pay?

I think that the Government's intention is that there should not be a rule for anybody.

The variants that I have been discussing have since figured prominently in negotiations, but no clear resolution concerning them has emerged. We are unsure of the precise proposition that the Luxembourg Presidency will put on the table at the Social Affairs Council on 5 December.

The Minister need not take too much trouble to persuade Conservative Members that the directive is a load of rubbish that should be thrown out. We accept that. But the Minister is moving a motion which says that, instead of all this rubbish, the Government want to encourage Community initiatives to "enhance job prospects". Before he sits down will he tell us exactly what the Government have in mind? Do they have in mind a lot of public expenditure within the Community in order to create jobs, because that is quite contrary to what the Government have sought to do at home?

My hon. Friend has tempted me to pre-empt what I was going to say at the end of the debate. Perhaps I should list the aims. The first is to try to encourage deregulation in the EC's activities so that we can remove barriers to employment. The second is to try to ensure that every proposed directive has an employment impact statement tied to the proposal. Most of the things on the agenda during the last few years have been either neutral or harmful to employment. The third aim is to ensure that when Social Affairs and Employments Ministers come together in Brussels, they discuss the sort of things discussed in their national capitals, such as how to enable the spirit of enterprise and greater employment to overtake the increase in unemployment that has taken place in Europe during the past 12 years. [Interruption.] I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) will listen to my words. He should be cheering them to the echo, but he does not seem to be convinced, or to be nodding his head in approval.

The draft directive has already been extensively discussed in the United Kingdom. The proposal has been debated and reported upon in the other place and, of course, the Department of Employment announced a consultation exercise to which the majority of interested parties responded. Many arguments both for and against the proposal were put forward and I may return to them at the end of the debate. I should record that the various proposals provoked little interest and still less support.

I am most anxious to help my hon. Friend, as I think that he is reading this nonsense terribly well. It is a great credit to any Minister to read rubbish well, and my hon. Friend is reading it very well. But apart from reading such Common Market rubbish well—

I object to the word "pure". But does my hon. Friend the Minister think that the directives will promote equal opportunities? Does he really believe, as the Opposition seem to do, that they will

"improve the quality of family life"
and that they will make a useful contribution towards reducing unemployment? As an employer, I know that nothing will increase unemployment more than this rubbish that we have to discuss tonight for one and a half hours, so I invite my hon. Friend the Minister to read it quickly and to get the debate over with so that we can vote against it.

I am not sure whether some of my words have been misinterpreted as meaning support for the draft directives. I should make it clear that the Government are not asking the House to approve the directives. The Government do no intend to approve them in Brussels.

The Government have not disputed that leave and career break arrangements, and opportunities for part-time work can play an important part in promoting equal opportunities and improving family welfare. However, we have noted the sharp divisions that exist both at home and abroad over the relative merits of this proposal. It is our considered view that the proposal is unnecessary. Its objectives can be, and are being, attained in the United Kingdom through voluntary agreements between employers and their work forces where the demand for them exists. To burden employers further especially in small firms, in the way that the directive proposes would in all probability damage rather than improve the employment prospects of those whom it seeks to assist. This draft directive will be bad for jobs and for that reason, if no other, this Government oppose it.

10.15 pm

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:

"welcomes European Community Documents Nos. 11118/83 and 10681/84, draft Directive and amended draft Directive which recommend a Community minimum statutory provision for parental leave and leave for family reasons, which would promote equal opportunity, improve the quality of family life and encourage greater flexibility of working time and shorter working hours as a useful contribution to the reduction of unemployment; and deplores the fact that the United Kingdom is now the only member state in direct opposition to these proposals."
Like other hon. Members, I am not riveted by the Common Market. However, as the Government lack any genuine policies to move towards equality for women, I am willing to grasp at any straws from Europe that might persuade the Government to fall into line with what other European countries are doing—

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman if he will wait for a few moments. I know that he will not let me proceed with my speech without attempting to interrupt me.

Any hon. Member not interested in the debate, who might wander into it having collected his documents from the Vote Office, might be forgiven for questioning the paucity of the documents, yet that is often the case with debates on EEC directives. Documents relating to this debate are dated no later than January 1984, and some are dated a year previous to that.

One of my complaints is that when the negotiations on EEC directives take place in Europe, at whatever level, this House is not taken into account, nor given any account of amendments tabled. Therefore, we are often faced with watered down directives, and the directives before us may be the result of what has happened during the past few months. I hope that, as a result of this debate, the Government will attend the meeting on 5 December and support the directives as a means of achieving more equality in this country. The content of the directives is of great importance to women in Britain.

However, throughout their period of office, the Government have shown many examples of their hypocritical attitude towards equality for women—and that goes for Conservative Members in the Chamber tonight. For example, the Government opposed the Bill on sexual equality that I introduced in 1983, they obstructed the proposal for equal pay for work of equal value, they gave a contemptuous response to the sex discrimination ruling against Britain's immigration rules and they mean-mindedly refused to extend the invalid care allowance to married and cohabiting women.

I understand what the hon. Lady is saying, and I sympathise with her desire for this legislation. The hon. Lady, like many hon. Members, has said that she is against any increase in European competence in areas in which it should not put forward policies. Indeed, there is some legal doubt whether the EEC has the authority to put forward such policies. Does the hon. Lady want the matter to be challenged legally in the proper manner before it is brought before the House?

Order. I remind hon. Members that they must speak to the terms of the directives. If the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) follows the line suggested by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), that will be out of order.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not know whether you have yet had the opportunity to read the documents, especially the report from the Select Committee. In its report, the Select Committee specifically said that there was some legal doubt about whether the EEC had any competence to pursue this issue.

Order. The debate must concern itself with the terms of the directives.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was proposing to do that.

With the Government's response to the European Commission's proposals for parental and family leave, we have a clear statement of the Government's attitude to men—

who wish to take a real and equal share in the care of their families. That surprised the hon. Gentleman, did it not?

The Government's curt motion to "note" the commission's proposals demonstrates yet again just how out of touch they are with day-to-day reality and the priorities of people's lives. It is a further example, despite all the Conservative party's claims to be the party of the family, of the Government's failure to support measures designed to help families.

As the Equal Opportunities Commission has said in its submission to the Department of Employment and the House of Lords, parental and family leave are two forms of leave provision which greatly assist workers with family responsibilities. The commission has given its full support to parental leave—which should not be confused with paternity leave—to give rights to fathers as well as to mothers to time off, following the end of maternity leave, to care for a young child under two. I can see nothing wrong with that. The EOC has fully endorsed family leave, which would enable employees to take time off for pressing and important family reasons, including the illness of a child or the person caring for it.

The TUC has expressed its support for such provision, together with many organisations concerned with the welfare of children, such as the Maternity Alliance and the National Council for One Parent Families, which have welcomed the proposals as

"providing a framework within which child care could be accepted as a manageable part of the working parent's life, rather than a source of crisis."
In Britain, almost half of all single parents—mostly women—are in paid employment; half of all women with dependent children are in paid employment; and about 88 per cent. of employed men have dependent children. Yet Britain's record on rights for working parents is, contrary to what the Under-Secretary of State has said, one of the worst in Europe. For example, our service requirements for maternity pay and leave are now so strict that only half of all pregnant women qualify, while fathers have no rights at all.

From January 1986, nine EEC countries, excluding this one, will have some form of parental leave provision. I ask Conservative Members to note that those countries have introduced this provision without waiting for the directive to come into effect. It does not come into force until January 1986. Some countries will have a provision that goes beyond that envisaged in the Commission's proposals. The Government have been hellbent on proposing wrecking amendments throughout the discussions, which have been taking place since November 1984. However, the basic essentials of the original proposals remain—thank goodness—and they have been accepted by most member states. There is to be a minimum of three months' parental leave consequential upon the birth or adoption of a child, with the option to take this part-time, and a minimum number of days' leave per annum—to be fixed by states—for pressing family reasons, to be available to mothers or fathers in paid employment. By taking governmental responsibility for such provision, all those member states are demonstrating their willingness to accept one of the most important principles underlying parental and family leave—that the sharing of family responsibilities is a precondition for the achievement of equal opportunities and equal treatment for women and men in all spheres.

The hon. Lady is giving the impression that all the other European countries have been busy adopting this directive. How many countries have no such intention? I put it to her that there are four such countries out of the 12. How many of the remainder have taken up this option with unpaid leave, which is a totally different matter from the paid-by-the-state proposals that are before us? Is it not a fact that six countries have unpaid leave proposals and that only two have full paid leave proposals?

I wonder whether the hon. Lady would mind waiting a little, because I intend to come to the list of countries that have these provisions. She will then get her answer.

The European Commission is encouraging member states to confront another fundamental issue facing the industrialised developed nations—the need radically to rethink the distribution of time spent on waged work and that spent on other responsibilities and activities.

Although still a minority, an increasing number of men are also rethinking their traditional role in the family. Many are rejecting the role which deprives them of the experience of caring for their children. They are expressing the desire to build a new type of relationship with their partner and their children. I should have thought that all hon. Members would welcome that.

Evidence shows that many men are refusing to follow the traditional path to promotion—for example, by uprooting their partner and children to chase every offer of career advancement around the country, or even out of the country, just to prove their worth to an employer and their dedication to their work. Many men, rightly, are challenging some of the outmoded notions about what it takes to be a real man. We should all welcome that.

That is offensive. There are too many examples of the characteristic "real man." I can see a few on the Government Benches—thrusting, strutting, one-track minded macho types who neither know nor care who looks after the rest of society.

The Commission rightly proposes to harmonise provisions throughout member states to redress the imbalance in employment rights for working parents throughout the EEC, to eradicate discrimination against working fathers and to strengthen equal opportunities for women at work. The proposals should be welcomed and encouraged.

The proposals also offer the opportunity to improve the quality of child care that working parents can give in the early months after a child's birth. The acute shortages of nursery care in the United Kingdom cause distress particularly for single parents.

It is generally accepted that women's working lives are affected more than men's when a couple have children or when adult members of families require help. One in eight women is at home caring for elderly or infirm relatives. That is more than the number of women at home caring for children. Under pressure from Governments, such as ours, the Commission has withdrawn the proposal that family leave should encompass time off to care for an adult dependant.

Can the hon. Lady elaborate on the number of women at home caring for a relative? Does the number include the elderly wife of an elderly man looking after her husband at home and who would not be working outside because of her own age?

My statistics come from the Association of Carers, the credentials of which are impeccable. Of course, the figure includes people caring for their partners. However, many women are caring for a relative at home when they might be out doing some form of paid work. That is because the community support system has been cut or withdrawn.

Employment conditions and the provision for social and community services fail to provide adequately for family responsibilities. Therefore, women returning to work after a career break often have to seek work in lower paid and lower status areas of employment. After having had a child many women who return to work have to enter a lower category of occupation. The 1980 survey of women and employment showed that broken employment patterns have a lasting effect upon women's lifetime earnings. Sometimes they involve a 25 to 50 per cent. reduction in earnings.

That illustrates the abysmally low value that employers place upon the skills and experience that people develop when they are caring for others and running a home. It illustrates also the massive waste of expensive training and the skills that women acquire in employment. Therefore, we regret the Government's view, which is implicit in the last part of their motion, that the Commission's proposals for parental and family leave run contrary to initiatives which enhance job prospects for both women and men.

Any Government who seriously sought to encourage job opportunities—not a claim that this Government could readily make—would face a long, hard haul to bring this country back to full employment. Although a future Labour Government will seek to provide permanent employment for all who require it, we accept that, for a variety of reasons, there will always be a place for short-term or temporary employment. In West Germany it is estimated that when parental and sabbatical leave comes into effect in 1986, one year contracts may be made available for up to 200,000 people who are not in paid employment. Such opportunities would assist the unemployed, disabled workers who are unable to take on long-term employment commitments, workers who have taken early retirement but who wish to have occasional employment to boost their incomes and workers who have chosen to take a career break of several years to care for children or adult dependants and require only occasional employment to maintain their skills. Cover for colleagues who take parental leave may also offer opportunities for employees in junior grades to gain experience through temporary promotion. That would further reduce the need for people to transfer jobs and uproot their families.

Therefore, we reject the view that parental and family leave, although desirable, are far too costly to be implemented. The Government say that there is no economic crisis, so there should be no problem about this. Those who argue that luxuries like parental leave and family leave must wait for some distant economic revival fail to take into account the number of workers who could temporarily be removed from the need to depend upon social security while they cover leave. The Government are ignoring, too, the boost to personal morale that this would provide and the boost to the quality of life and purchasing power of all concerned.

We also reject the Government's view that the proposals can best be dealt with through
"voluntary negotiations between employers and employees."
That approach will discriminate against employees in the poorly organised, non-union sectors. The majority of workers in those sectors are low paid, and mainly women. Their existing minimal rights are being further eroded by the removal of those under 21 years of age from the protection of the wages councils, three quarters of whom are women. Even those workers who are protected by strong trade unions which are committed to equal opportunities—the Government have done everything in their power to weaken all trade unions—find that employers are unnecessarily obstructive about issues such as parental leave.

In its evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities in March this year, the National Union of Journalists—I hope that members of the Press Gallery are listening, although there are not many present—said:
"in spite of the strenuous efforts to improve these rights through free collective bargaining large numbers of employers are quite unreasonably resistant."
It went on to say that the result of this has been
"to reinforce the existing job segregation (between women and men) in an industry which has no conceivable skill-related reason to be segregated in this way. Without firm backing through legislation"—
such as that which we are discussing—

"it will take many years for the unions to eliminate these disparities at the negotiating table. It would, therefore, take a corresponding length of time for us to move closer to equality in the prestigious and higher paid jobs in the newspaper field. We believe that this constitutes a form of indirect discrimination against women and that our industry and our society is the poorer for it."
Similarly, we reject the view that parental and family leave would adversely affect the employers' ability to remain competitive. Even if we wished to apply the Government's "market mechanisms" and "balance sheet mentality", this would still encourage support for harmonised governmental responsibility throughout the EEC to ensure that employers who wish to demonstrate their commitment to equal opportunities and their social responsibility to working parents and their children are not penalised unfairly by an imbalance of competition from unscrupulous employers who refuse to negotiate.

The Opposition therefore urge the Government to take note of the opinions expressed by, among others, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Trades Union Congress, the Maternity Alliance, the British agencies for adoption and fostering, MENCAP, the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital, and the Royal College of Nursing, all of which have given support to the idea.


These organisations which represent the interests of working parents and children, will find it very hard to understand why the party that took the country into the EEC refuses to implement policies that so many other states have already accepted.

For those Conservative Members who are opposed to the Common Market, I point out that we need not have waited for the EC anyway.

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) asked about figures. France offers two years of unpaid leave to either parent, or the right to work part-time for the same period and £100 to families with three or more children. Italy provides six months leave, paid at 30 per cent. to the mother or father. Denmark gives 10 weeks of paid parental leave. In Belgium, six to 12 months leave is available for the care of young children, and it may be taken part-time where cover is provided by a part-time worker who was previously unemployed. In Greece, employees of companies of more than 100 workers are entitled to three months parental leave.

Yes, unpaid; but at least it is a step in the right direction.

In West Germany a new law on parental leave comes into effect in 1986, increasing the period of leave to 10 months, and then to 12 months from 1988. Leave is currently paid at £150 a month for women and there is extended maternity leave, but by next year that figure will be available to men also. In Luxembourg, public sector employees may take one year of unpaid leave, following maternity leave.

Portugal—not yet a member of the EC, but becomes one in January—already provides six months' parental leave. Spain will also not become a member of the Community until January, but it allows up to three years' family leave. Italy, Greece, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal all make a variety of provisions for family leave to care for sick children. Portugal provides for 30 days' leave covered by social security benefits.

I do not want to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Can the British Government continue to argue that we cannot afford to implement these provisions? We think not. The working women and men in this country will be waiting for a decision from the House tonight which accepts that such socially desirable legislation cannot be costed merely on a pounds and pence basis. We remind hon. Members—

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am the last person who would wish to interrupt the hon. Lady, but is this meant to be a debate or a lecture? If one is not allowed to question, why do we have a debate at all?

The hon. Gentleman knows that the length of speeches is not my business.

After the hon. Gentleman's offensive remark earlier, I decided not to give way to him. I will end what he calls my lecture by quoting from the House of Lords Select Committee which found that there was

"no convincing evidence that parental leave would raise industry's costs."
The Committee recommended that
"any increased costs should be met in part by governments"
to ensure that the important social objectives of promoting equal opportunities for women—something that Tory Members do not know about—and improving child care can be met.

I could not express it better. I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for our amendment, and I hope that some Conservative Members will be shamed into joining us.

10.42 pm

I shall not take up many of the points made by the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson), but when she listed the terms and conditions of employment in various European countries she appeared to overlook the relationship between export performance in those countries and the need to be competitive. If the hon. Lady will ponder a while on the percentage of our GDP that goes on exports she may understand why we have to find our own way on competitiveness and burdens on business.

In the interests of brevity, I shall confine my remarks to parental leave. I believe that leave for family reasons should be subject to negotiation between employer and employee. I welcome what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said about the directive and particularly his comment that it was bad for jobs. I am reassured that the Government's position has not changed from what was set out in January 1984 by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he was at the Department of Employment.

Few would argue against the principles of equal opportunity in society for women, of shared responsibilities and particularly of equality of treatment at work. Those were the Commission's objectives in 1982 when the directive was included as part of the Community action programme. There is no disputing the attraction of those objectives as a broad statement of intent, but they lacked any sense of realism about the way in which the labour market works and there is still no evidence of that realism.

The directive aims at social ideals, apparently without the slightest recognition of the disruption in the work place, the added costs to employers or the taxpayer and the disincentive to take on young married workers which would inevitably follow.

Against those eventualities it seems remarkable that the Council should persist with the directive at a time when each member of the Community faces awesome problems of unemployment. Each member state needs to ensure that its industries compete more effectively on world markets to secure lasting jobs. Every Government within the Community now recognises that the control of inflation and lowering industrial costs is the only sure way to reduce unemployment. Yet the directive clearly embraces entirely different notions. Paragraph 5 states:
"Parental leave … as a form of leave of absence from work … can … make a useful contribution to the reduction of unemployment by promoting voluntary … withdrawal … from the labour market."
In other words, the directive advocates social engineering to tackle unemployment, and has in reality little to do with women's rights.

Is it not a fact that the Labour party thinks that a married woman can pop in and out of work virtually as she pleases? Many of us who employ ladies realise that they are valued employees who are essential to our businesses and who need to be at work rather than at home.

I am glad to hear a note of realism introduced in support of my remarks. It is regrettable if Opposition Members feel that they can set aside any concern about the methods of tacking unemployment.

The sort of back-door interference advocated in the directive will do nothing to solve the unemployment problem. It is high time that the authors of the directive paid heed to the economic policies of the member states. The directive would merely result in a failure, which discredited other genuine efforts on behalf of equal opportunities for women.

As my hon. Friend the Minister said, the directive proposes that men and women should be entitled to voluntary leave. [Horn. MEMBERS: "Reading."] I shall continue to read whenever it suits me to do so, in spite of the mood of liberty on the Opposition Benches. My hon. Friend pointed out that all part-time employees should qualify and that the maximum qualifying period should not exceed one year. Apart from the fact that that would mean that the amendments were against the tide of recent changes in the Employment Protection Act 1975; the measures proposed would increase the intake of qualifiers far beyond the present scope of maternity leave. It would also add considerably to industry's costs, whether directly or indirectly.

It is worth noting that during 1984 in Sweden the cost of parental leave was estimated at 1·5 per cent. of the total wages bill. Faced with such an outlay, the Government surely would have to transfer the burden to employers, which in turn could have a critical marginal effect on the cost of goods sold in highly competitive markets, an much the same way as the national insurance surcharge—the tax on jobs—under the Labour Government.

The report on parental leave published earlier this year by the House of Lords Select Committee seems to have been much taken with the objectives of the Council's directive but had little regard to the attendant costs, in spite of the persuasive evidence provided by the Confederation of British Industry and other witnesses to the cortrary.

Paragraph 115(3) of the report concludes that there is no evidence that parental leave would raise industry's costs, but paragraph 115(6) states that those costs should be paid for by public funds. Who will have to reimburse public funds other than industry?

Opposition Members presumably like to assume that businesses are not taxpayers.

There are three practical reasons why that will inhibit the growth of employment in otherwise successful businesses. First, it will cause disruption in small companies, and the large companies whose employee strength was pared to the bone during the recession. Individual shops and departments in those companies have no reserves to turn to, if men and part-time female employees, as well as full-time female employees, take advantage of parental leave.

Secondly, business men are pragmatic, and never more so than since the recession. Therefore—

I ask my hon. Friend to assist me as a simple seeker of the truth. He is making an excellent speech and I ask him whether the problem is that the Common Market organisation, which brought this nonsense forward, would be improved if at least a third of the staff had three years off for paternity leave or any other reason. How different that would be for industry, which would have to pay for this nonsense. Perhaps my hon. Friend will comment on that.

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. Whether I should recommend that which the staff would have to do to qualify for parental leave is something that I shall leave to my hon. Friend.

I was saying that business men are pragmatic. The result of the scheme would be to ensure that the fruits of the YTS would be lost instantly. Young persons would be avoided like the plague by employers because of the inevitable consequences. Finally, the scheme would run contrary to the excellent spirit of the Government's policy of lifting the burden from business, which is the way to create jobs. The answer does not lie in the imposition of further administrative burdens by the European Community.

10.56 pm

The behaviour of some Conservative Members is appalling. It is amazing that they treat the issue before us as a frivolous subject. That is their approach to debates on roles in society and women's rights. It is shocking.

The proposal before us is a logical extension of maternity leave, which was initially accepted reluctantly by British businesses. The chief beneficiary would be women who are in employment, especially those in single-parent families. There is no great opposition to the provision of maternity leave within our society. The report of the Select Committee on the European Communities in another place found that only 5 per cent. of employers felt that there would be a substantial problem with maternity leave. The study concluded by stating:
"in view of the controversy that has surrounded maternity rights in general and the right to reinstatement in particular, the extent to which managers reported any difficulty over the provisions since their introduction is surprisingly low."
The concept is not the same as family-reason leave, to which many firms are sympathetic and which arises capriciously. We are dealing especially with parental leave in the first two years of a child's life. Conservative Members have suggested that a huge change is proposed and that it would make a massive change to business practice and to industry. I am sure that that would not be the effect of the proposed change. It would affect about 1 per cent. of men who are in employment and 2 per cent. of women.

It is suggested that small firms with fewer than 20 employees should be exempt in the first instance. In other words, the firms involved would have the capacity to deal with that which is proposed because of the flexibility of employment within them. The issue that arises is whether the proposals before us would be detrimental to employment. The fears of the cost to industry are unfounded. If women did not return to good jobs after having children, businesses would lose their experience, knowledge and training. If enlightened businesses and employers were aware that it would help them to retrain trained, experienced and knowledgeable employees, they would be assisted in developing their businesses and the output of them.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it is difficult to retain good will if employers think that all their employees are going to hop off for up to three years? Surely, the point is that it is not just businesses employing 20 people that have to be considered. One must consider the fact that some people will go to the bigger businesses because they know that they are an easier touch. When will the hon. Gentleman think of all businesses?

I accept the problem that the hon. Gentleman has raised. It is a choice between having a regular turnover, particularly of women because they will not return to jobs after having children, or retaining workers and letting them have leave for a number of months within the first two years of a child's life. That is a matter of balance. [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will listen to the reply rather than being bothered by interruptions. He may feel that it is better to let women employees go after they have had children and not come back. One then loses their training and experience.

Let me continue. Essentially, it is a matter of women's rights and changes in the balance of society. It is a matter of changing the stereotypes in society because that will assist men to get back into the home looking after children if they so wish. It is a matter of assisting the different roles in society and assisting women to develop their own roles.

Has it occurred to the hon. Gentleman that if the right is given to married women to pop in and out of work as they please, it will make them eminently less employable? Many small employers will avoid them like the plague.

I find it hard to believe that employers in other countries, who at least have a measure of these provisions, are worse and less enlightened than employers in Britain. I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman thinks that that is true. He takes a low view of employers and employees in this country.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that a far higher proportion of women are employed in Britain than in other European countries, so there is a greater impact. That also shows that employers in this country are better employers of women than in other European countries.

If one believes that the only way to get good employment practice—[Interruption.]

Order. There are far too many interruptions from a sedentary position. There is a proper way to intervene. I hope that hon. Members will observe it.

I feel that some people who intervene do not want to hear the answers.

If the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) believes that the only way to get employees to behave themselves, to work full hours and to earn a living, is by employers imposing upon them, we shall never have good labour relations. We must develop the best relationship. Essentially, the proposition is not for 21st century labour relations. It is more like Quakerism from the 19th century. The proposal improves the outlook for enlightened employers' employees by giving them better social conditions. There is nothing revolutionary about that. I hope that employers in Britain will accept that it could be of benefit to them.

This issue is a suitable subject for legislation because I do not believe that one will achieve such a change without putting the force of legislation behind enlightened views. If that was not the case, I would not want legislation. I have not seen evidence around the country of employers being prepared to give parental leave out of good will. I have not seen any examples of negotiations between unions and employers. Therefore, the measure seems to be a good thing. This is a good subject for legislation because at least an equal burden is placed on employers, if they believe that it is a burden. That is good if it makes the system fair.

The measure will be beneficial for our society if we can extend our provision. There is a financial cost for all improvements that are made in society. The balance must be considered when one is thinking about how far to go at any time. It saddens me that Conservative Members deride the measure, as if it were not a social improvement rather than trying to balance the advantages against the costs. That is what we should do.

11.1 pm

We have discovered something today—that the European Community, where it initiates its own policies and where those policies are not brought forward by Governments and Ministers representing the people, appeals greatly to Opposition Members. The bureaucrats in the European Community who bring forward those policies are Socialists. That is why the Labour party is attracted to the measure.

I have a reputation—(HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]—an undeserved reputation, for being anti-European. It is a calumny. It is not true. I am in favour of co-operation with Europe on foreign policy, and in defence, and I am in favour of removing barriers to the movement of goods. I am in favour of working together with other European countries in areas of major investment so that we can compete with the rest of the world, but I am not in favour of the petty regulations that come forward. I am not in favour of the growing burden of Socialism that is spawned by the Commission in Brussels, to which we in the Conservative party object strongly.

With other hon. Members, I went recently with the Select Committee on European Legislation to Brussels. I met people in the Commission. We know what they are—intelligent people who want a sense of achievement out of the job that they are doing and feel that the only way that they can get it is by changing the world and bringing forward policies. This is one of those policies. It has come from the Commission, from the bureaucracy, and it is supported by many countries in Europe, because many countries in Europe are Socialist. We are not a Socialist country, nor will we ever become one again. This is just the sort of policy of which we in this country disapprove.

I ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary: is the measure ultra vires? Is it an area in which the Community should have competence? If not, I believe that the Government should challenge it in the courts. We do not want this creeping bureaucracy. We do not want these additional burdens put upon us. Gracious me, we have a brand-new Secretary of State for Employment who is trying to liberate and free industry. The measure is something that we do not want.

Any good employer will want to look after his employees. Any good employer whose female staff have a child will look after them, will want to have them back, will want to make sure that they are properly treated. However, some businesses, enterprises, firms and industries are different from others. They have different requirements for their employees, and so treat them slightly differently.

In this case, we are saying that there should be imposed upon every employer a system of parental leave, whereby mothers have leave of at least three months at a stretch up to two years after the child is born. That is in addition to maternity leave. When the mother is not in work an allowance may be payable by Government, but on top of that, her stamp will have to be paid by them. Therefore, the measure will have to be paid for by the Government and the taxpayer. In addition, the time that mothers are off sick while on parental leave does not count. If they have other children at home, if their husband is ill or if there are family problems, they can take time off on family leave.

Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you can visualise that some employees will not be as enthusiastic as they should be about going to work, but will stretch this out over a long period of time. They will be unsatisfactory employees, and the employer—because he wants to remain competitive—will not want to continue to employ these people. But if he does anything about it, he can be taken to court. This whole thing will be an obstacle course for employers. A good employer will look after his staff anyhow, and it is the good employers who, by and large, prosper and deserve to prosper.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the common practice in the midlands, whereby in many large factories a minimum amount of sick leave is allowed during the year? It is common for employees to take all that time, whether they are ill or not. Frequently, many people who become ill have already used up all their sick leave.

As usual, my hon. Friend makes a cogent and valid point. All Conservative Members know that the good employer will do the thing properly and will look after his staff. It is in his interests to look after his staff, and he becomes successful because he looks after his staff. But if we impose this statutory burden on all employers, we shall lose our level of competitiveness, we shall lose our share of world markets and we shall lose jobs.

The point made by my hon. Friend the Minister, which is very important, is that employers will be reluctant to employ the very people whom the Opposition want them to take on. They will be reluctant to take on young women, because they will feel that, if they do so, they will have a lifetime of problems ahead of them. This measure is nonsense. It is Socialist nonsense, and I was delighted with the speech of my hon. Friend the Minister.

11.7 pm

Britain has a deeply segregated work force. In any office, industry or service, there are men's jobs and women's jobs. Although each sector has exceptions, with women doing what are normally regarded as men's jobs, or men doing what are normally regarded as women's jobs, overall the pattern is deeply ingrained. Not only do we have deep sex segregation in the work force, but we have deeply entrenched discrimination in the pattern of employment between men and women. Men and women often work different hours. For example, it is not unusual for men to work 35 or 40-hour weeks with plenty of overtime, yet many women work part-time in local jobs, which usually have low pay and no prospects.

A primary reason for that is the division of labour in the home. A fundamental obstacle to equality for women in the work force is the division of labour in the home. It is no good men groaning and saying, "But I help out at home from time to time." Anyone with any sense can see, and all the Government's surveys have shown, that women take responsibility for maintaining the household and, more importantly for rearing children. In the absence of proper public services to support families where there are small children or dependent relatives, it is to other women—usually friends or more often relatives—that women turn for help.

Britain has a chronic problem of male absenteeism from the home. We must crack that problem. How can women have equal opportunities to participate at work and in other activities outside the home if their unshared domestic responsibility will always hold them back from achieving anything, let alone their full potential, outside the home? The normal—that is to say, the male—working pattern completely denies and excludes the father's role as a parent, and at the same time it exploits the wife. A man with small children can work a 35-hour week with plenty of overtime only if he has a wife servicing him and his family—a wife who will get the children up, take them to school, go to work, shop in her lunch hour, go back to work again, take the children home from school, make their dinner, get his dinner on the table, put the children to bed, wash up, do his washing and then go to bed herself. Where a woman is servicing a husband, a home and a family, her scope for taking up further opportunities at work is severely limited.

We have to look at ways of changing the patterns of employment, and parental or family leave taken either by the husband or the wife is an important step down that path. Women as part of the work force are here to stay. There will be no going back to the kitchen. Only 5 per cent. of families conform to the myth of the husband going to work and the wife staying at home to look after two children. Women work because they want to, because they need to and because we need their work. If women went back to the home there is not an industry, an office or a service that would not grind to a halt.

The pattern of work obviously discriminates against women. It also discriminates against men because it discriminates against those men who want to play a more responsible part in bringing up their own children. Some men suffer and are unhappy because they are prevented from doing so by having to work all hours and cannot take time off for family responsibilities.

11.11 pm

I wish to support the stand taken by the Government against this silly proposal and I hope the House throws it out with more determination than the other place did in March when it was debated.

To suggest that the House should grant at least the three months parental leave on top of maternity leave, for both parents, paid for by the State, is extravagant, unrealistic and destructive. It is a product of bureaucracy gone mad, dreamt up by the people in Brussels who have never employed anyone, never run a business, never had to balance a budget either in the public or the private sector and never had to face unemployment because their employer could no longer afford to employ them.

There have been strong objections from the CBI and other employers on the ground of cost. The proposal is that the state should pay and it would not add to cost. My hon. Friends are right—it would add to costs, because the companies would have all the expenses of replacement, retraining and administration. The money would come from the the social security system. The proposal is that we should raise the employers' and employees' contributions to pay for it. This week we have added £2 billion to the social security costs of over £40 billion. If the Government make any proposals to reduce that bill, the Opposition wll cry out, as if we were going to do something dreadful. Just as the Government are trying to cut the cost of national insurance contributions and of employing people, this proposal would try to increase those costs. The employee would pay in one way or another—in tax, national insurance or with his job.

The proposal would also have the most disastrous effects upon industrial competitiveness.

That happens throughout the whole of Europe.

I hoped someone would mention Europe. The Aldington report and other reports from the House of Lords have proved that we cannot take any of our markets for granted. No other country in Europe can do that either. We should be aware that we are competing with countries outside the Common Market.

The proposal would not involve harmonisation of the 12 European countries. Four of them—the United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands and Spain—have no such scheme. Six of them—France, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg—have a scheme for unpaid leave. France has a scheme for paid leave, but it applies only to families with more than three children and it works out at only 1,000 francs a month, which is not a lot of money. Germany's scheme of paid leave involves only the private sector; it refers only to the mother and is roughly the same as our maternity leave scheme. Whatever the German civil service has been up to, it has not been looking after its own staff because its scheme does not apply to the public sector there.

Only two countries—Italy and Denmark—have such a scheme of payments. Italy allows a payment of 30 per cent. of average earnings, which is not a strong incentive to people to take it up. In July, Denmark introduced a new law that allows 90 per cent. of average earnings to be paid. It will be interesting to see what effect that has on Denmark's birth rate. The mind boggles at paying a man to be fecund, which is what that amounts to.

I am reluctant to intervene in my hon. Friend's admirably constructive speech, but does not the concentration on maternity leave underestimate by far the largest demand for leave for family reasons, from the very large number of people with injured and disabld relatives? Does my hon. Friend agree that leave of that kind should be negotiated between employers and employees, because it is a very serious area of concern?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. But the proposals for family leave include time off to go to family weddings. I do not think that that is a matter for the state to interfere in or to pay for at all.

The effect on cost might be modified by the take-up. Paragraph 7 of the explanatory memorandum to the draft directive states that Sweden has had such a scheme for a long time but that it has taken several years for the take-up to rise to 13 per cent. In other words, more than 80 per cent. of Swedish men take no notice of schemes of this kind because they take their responsibilities to their companies very seriously.

If the scheme is going to be so ineffective, why bother legislating for it? Why not leave it to the companies to do it themselves?

The hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) referred to journalists. I suspect that somewhere in one or two of the unions someone cares about all this. The TUC has said that it is in favour—but then it would say that, would it not? Down the road at the Daily Mirror this week there have been negotiations about terms of employment and all the rest of it, but I bet that no one has mentioned the essential urgent requirement for parental leave. There has been not a jot of it. None of the unions has bothered to negotiate anything like this. They could not care less until someone else is going to pay for it.

We are also told that the Equal Opportunities Commission is in favour. I expect that there are people from that organisation sitting up in the Strangers Gallery. I hope that they will listen—

Order. The hon. Lady knows that she must not refer to people in the Strangers Gallery.

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I did not know that.

I despair of that ragbag of a body which finds it so easy to waste time and public money fiddling around with stuff like this. It merely encourages women to think that equality grows out of a law book, when it does not. It comes from women taking the opportunities open to them and making the best of them. It comes when women face the demands of a responsible job and, like the men, ensure that they have made their arrangements accordingly. It comes when women stop asking for special concessions and special rules and make sure that they are good enough to take the men on at their own jobs and beat them.

The Federation of Business and Professional Women, which involves both employees and employers, is dead against the proposals. It says that they are counterproductive and that they will prejudice the employment especially of women, just as the employment protection legislation has done. The bulk of growth in employment in the past two or three years has been in part-timers and the self-employed—people not covered by those Acts. Legislation designed to protect the work force has merely succeeded in reducing it.

Finally, we must consider whether proposals of this kind fulfil the objective, with which we all agree, of supporting the family. If they were effective, which I doubt, they might just encourage more mothers with tiny children—this will apply only to children under two years old—to work full time. In all honesty, I cannot see how that helps the family or the children. If we are serious about supporting the family, there are all sons of other things that we can do, such as correcting the tax anomalies which encourage wives to go out to work and penalise those who stay at home.

Children are the responsibility of their parents. We choose to have them and we choose how we care for them. They are not the responsibility of the state or of the employer. I fully support the Government.

11.19 pm

No Conservative Member would miss his or her daughter's wedding to come to the House. They would put their top hats on and leave their nannies to look after their little children to go to the wedding. [Interruption.] Conservative Members can shout all they like, but they show that they do not understand how ordinary people live.

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) said that not one union has negotiated an agreement such as is proposed. My union—the National Communications Union—has. It has produced a maternity package because of the great need. The Common Market proposals are good and the Government are blocking them for no good reason. It is right that both parents should have time off to look after their nippers without risk of losing their jobs.

The proposals make it easier for women to work. I believe that women have the right to work. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South talked of a woman going to work rather than staying at home to look after a two-year-old nipper. She does not know the poverty and hardship that will drive a woman to go out to work rather than look after her baby. That is what Conservative Members do not understand.

I know that there is high unemployment, but the problem is not to be solved at the expense of working women. The responsibility for that unemployment lies with the Treasury Bench and Ministers, not with women, It is important that, after childbirth, women should be able to adjust to going back to work. It is clear to the trade unions that, if women are to have equal opportunity at work, childbirth must not be a barrier. I am not talking of any old work. Women are entitled to work that matches their experience and training. That is why the National Communications Union is anxious to secure satisfactory arrangements.

The number of single-parent families is increasing, and such parents must have work. We are talking not about pin money but about whether people can afford to pay the rent. They have to go to work. Many families cannot get a mortgage without two incomes. Housing depends upon it. For many women, work provides an escape from the house. Women often go to work because they need the social contact.

Conservative Members live in the world of nannies, prep schools and public schools. Their wives leave the children with the nanny to go to Ascot or Henley. Their wives leave the kids at home and enjoy themselves—I do not blame them. The women I represent have to leave the nippers at home to go out to work. That is the difference between the two sides of the House and why Conservative Members have been so badly behaved throughout the debate. They do not realise the seriousness of the situation.

Why do the Government refuse to support the proposals? Because their paymasters at the last general election—the employers—have told them to do so. There is no point going to most employers to ask them for these concessions. If it had been left to the employers, kids would still be going down the mines and up chimneys. The employers were forced to change only by legislation. The only way in which parents, especially women, will get a fair deal, given the antiquated attitude of the Tory party, is through the implementation of the directive and other legislation.

11.25 pm

I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) for cutting him out of the debate, but I suspect that he has contributed as much as those hon. Members who have been called.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) contradicted himself in his remarks on parental leave and his union's negotiations. I wish to say in passing that I owe him an apology for mixing up his union with another.

The hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) spoke of grasping at straws. She demonstrated one important point, which is the need to help people reconcile and balance their home and work responsibilities. She mentioned care for elderly dependants, an issue of which more people should be aware—especially the burden that many people, mainly women, carry. Indeed, many women spend more time caring for elderly dependants than caring for children. Perhaps it will be possible to return to that issue on another occasion. However, the hon. Lady demonstrated that European directives are not required in that or other areas.

In view of this most bizarre debate on this incredible subject, I ask my hon. Friend to address his mind to one question—does he really think that the Common Market has the right to decide this internal affair? Are we to have one nonsensical debate after another? Why do we not tell the EEC to mind its own business and that we will run our country as we think best for the British people?

My hon. Friend raises a point also raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) about the legality of the proposal. The Government, for the moment, prefer to concentrate on the practical question of the best way to promote opportunities for men and women. We want to persuade our partners in Europe, as well as hon. Members, that this proposal is not the way to do that.

My hon. Friend rightly said that this is a nonsensical proposal that we regard as rubbish. He made a super speech. Will he guarantee that in the discussions in Brussels on majority voting—which I understand will apply to article 100 regulations, to which this proposal relates—the Government will not allow Greece, Portugal, Spain and a majority of countries to impose this proposal on the United Kingdom, whether Parliament wants it or not? Will the Government stand firm?

I undertake that one of my colleagues will write to my hon. Friend on that matter.

I want to correct an impression given in the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie). I am sure that she will wish to reconsider her remarks about the Equal Opportunities Commission—

I happen to believe that the commission is helpful to employers, and its code of practice has been warmly welcomed by the CBI. It does valuable work in encouraging women in skill shortage areas. We value its views on issues, even if we do not always agree.

It is worth mentioning that on 8 May I gave a list of European directives that had been accepted since 1979. Only one of them relates to employment protection, and I do not think that it could be regarded as social engineering. I said sufficient earlier to show that this proposal would be social engineering because no European country has the same provisions as any other, so there is a diversity of views among the countries. Indeed, the House has demonstrated the diversity of view within it as well as within the country.

We could have picked up many points from the debate, but I think that it is best to state plainly that we believe that the proposal should not be pursued. The issue will be discussed again by the Council on 5 December, but I do not think that final decisions will be reached because a number of important issues still divide the states, including our objection on principle as well as on practice.

I have explained that our objection flows from the fact that our overriding priority is to improve job opportunities for men and women. It is in that spirit that I trust that the Council will approach the issue on 5 December. If it is interested, it can look at the figures which show that, over a considerable period, the growth of jobs in this country has been greater than in the rest of Europe put together. It is well worth people recognising that many of those jobs have been for women. I think that we have been doing well. I advise the House to reject the amendment, and I invite hon. Members to support the Government's motion.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 120, Noes 177.

Division No. 11]

[11.30 pm


Alton, DavidCaborn, Richard
Anderson, DonaldCallaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Ashton, JoeCampbell-Savours, Dale
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Carter-Jones, Lewis
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Clarke, Thomas
Barnett, GuyClay, Robert
Barron, KevinClwyd, Mrs Ann
Beckett, Mrs MargaretCohen, Harry
Bell, StuartCook, Frank (Stockton North)
Bermingham, GeraldCook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Bidwell, SydneyCorbyn, Jeremy
Blair, AnthonyCunliffe, Lawrence
Boyes, RolandDalyell, Tam
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Deakins, Eric
Buchan, NormanDobson, Frank

Dormand, JackMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Douglas, DickMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dubs, AlfredMadden, Max
Duffy, A. E. P.Marek, Dr John
Eadie, AlexMaynard, Miss Joan
Eastham, KenMeacher, Michael
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Meadowcroft, Michael
Ewing, HarryMichie, William
Fatchett, DerekMikardo, Ian
Flannery, MartinMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foster, DerekNellist, David
Foulkes, GeorgeOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldO'Brien, William
Freud, ClementParry, Robert
Garrett, W. E.Penhaligon, David
George, BrucePike, Peter
Godman, Dr NormanPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Golding, JohnPrescott, John
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Randall, Stuart
Hardy, PeterRedmond, M.
Harman, Ms HarrietRichardson, Ms Jo
Haynes, FrankRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Rogers, Allan
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Rowlands, Ted
Home Robertson, JohnShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Howells, GeraintSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Hoyle, DouglasSkinner, Dennis
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Snape, Peter
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Soley, Clive
Janner, Hon GrevilleSteel, Rt Hon David
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Stott, Roger
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldStrang, Gavin
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Kirkwood, ArchyThorne, Stan (Preston)
Lambie, DavidWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Leighton, RonaldWelsh, Michael
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Winnick, David
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)Woodall, Alec
Litherland, Robert
Livsey, RichardTellers for the Ayes:
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Mr. Mark Fisher and
Lofthouse, GeoffreyMr. John McWilliam.


Alexander, RichardButcher, John
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelButler, Rt Hon Adam
Ancram, MichaelButterfill, John
Arnold, TomCarlisle, John (N Luton)
Aspinwall, JackCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Carttiss, Michael
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Cash, William
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Chapman, Sydney
Baldry, TonyChope, Christopher
Batiste, SpencerClark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bevan, David GilroyClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Blackburn, JohnColvin, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterConway, Derek
Boscawen, Hon RobertCoombs, Simon
Bottomley, PeterCope, John
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaCouchman, James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Currie, Mrs Edwina
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardDicks, Terry
Brandon-Bravo, MartinDorrell, Stephen
Bright, GrahamDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Brinton, TimDover, Den
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonDunn, Robert
Bruinvels, PeterDykes, Hugh
Buck, Sir AntonyEggar, Tim
Budgen, NickEvennett, David
Bulmer, EsmondEyre, Sir Reginald
Burt, AlistairFarr, Sir John

Favell, AnthonyParris, Matthew
Fookes, Miss JanetPollock, Alexander
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Porter, Barry
Fox, MarcusPowell, William (Corby)
Freeman, RogerPrentice, Rt Hon Reg
Gale, RogerRaffan, Keith
Garel-Jones, TristanRhodes James, Robert
Glyn, Dr AlanRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Goodhart, Sir PhilipRoe, Mrs Marion
Gregory, ConalRowe, Andrew
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hampson, Dr KeithRyder, Richard
Harris, DavidSackville, Hon Thomas
Harvey, RobertSayeed, Jonathan
Hayes, J.Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Heddle, JohnShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Henderson, BarryShelton, William (Streatham)
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Sims, Roger
Hubbard-Miles, PeterSkeet, T. H. H.
Jessel, TobySmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Key, RobertSpeed, Keith
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Speller, Tony
Lang, IanSpencer, Derek
Lawler, GeoffreySpicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Lawrence, IvanSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSquire, Robin
Lester, JimStanbrook, Ivor
Lightbown, DavidStanley, John
Lilley, PeterSteen, Anthony
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Stern, Michael
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lord, MichaelStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Lyell, NicholasSumberg, David
McCrindle, RobertTaylor, John (Solihull)
McCurley, Mrs AnnaTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Maclean, David JohnThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Major, JohnThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Malins, HumfreyThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Malone, GeraldThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Maples, JohnThurnham, Peter
Marlow, AntonyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Tracey, Richard
Mates, MichaelTrippier, David
Mather, Carolvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Maude, Hon FrancisWaddington, David
Mawhinney, Dr BrianWakeham, Rt Hon John
Mayhew, Sir PatrickWall, Sir Patrick
Merchant, PiersWaller, Gary
Meyer, Sir AnthonyWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Warren, Kenneth
Moate, RogerWatts, John
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Moynihan, Hon C.Wheeler, John
Neale, GerrardWolfson, Mark
Nelson, AnthonyWood, Timothy
Nicholls, PatrickWoodcock, Michael
Oppenheim, Phillip
Osborn, Sir JohnTellers for the Noes:
Ottaway, RichardMr. Michael Neubert and
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Mr. Tony Durant.
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.


That this House takes note of European Community Documents Nos. 11118/83 and 10681/84, draft Directive and amended draft Directive on parental leave and leave for family reasons; endorses the Government's view that these matters are best pursued by voluntary negotiations between employers and employees; and welcomes the United Kingdom's endeavours to encourage instead Community initiatives which enhance job prospects for men and women.