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Volume 201: debated on Tuesday 14 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what implications the outcome of the negotiations over the social chapter at Maastricht have for the United Kingdom.

The treaty on European union agreed at the European Council at Maastricht confirms that the existing social provisions chapter within the present treaty (articles 117–122) will be retained without change. The outcome of the negotiations on the social chapter provides the necessary basis for the development of a sensible Community social dimension and the United Kingdom will continue to participate fully in all relevant discussions.That is the outcome for which the Government argued throughout the negotiations. It leaves the leading responsibility for employment and social policies where it belongs, firmly in the hands of national Parliaments, and is good news for British jobs and for the competitiveness of our industry.

Should other member states wish to go further than provided for in the treaty, they can do so by way of the separate protocol and agreement on social affairs.