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Ec Social Policy

Volume 201: debated on Tuesday 14 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what discussions he has had with his EC counterparts on the implementation of the social action programme; and if he will make a statement.

I have frequent discussions, both at Councils of Ministers and individually with my EC counterparts, about measures brought forward under the Commission's social action programme. In those discussions, I emphasise that the United Kingdom expects to be able to support a majority of proposals under the action programme, while we shall continue to resist those which would damage jobs and competitiveness in this country.

In talks with European colleagues, will the Secretary of State ensure that workers in this country are not left behind in terms of employment protection and rights? European competitors can afford to give greater rights and protection to women, the low-paid and part-time workers, so why should workers in this country be offered anything less?

Workers in this country will benefit from the greater flexibility with which British firms will be able to respond to the challenges that they will face in the 1990s, and we shall see more job opportunities created in this country as a result of the greater flexibility that will be available to us.