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Social Affairs Council

Volume 264: debated on Thursday 19 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will make a statement on the outcome of the EC Social Affairs Council held on 5 October. [38734]

I attended the Council on 5 October in Luxembourg with the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan).There was a broadcast discussion on follow-up to the fourth UN world conference on women. My hon. Friend noted that much progress had been made in the UK and indicated the Government's intention to take forward the results of the conference. The presidency announced a conference to be held at the end of November in Madrid to take stock of progress since Peking and suggest strategies for the future.

There was an orientation debate but no attempt to reach a decision on the fourth equal opportunities action programme. Several delegations, including the UK, called for greater clarity about the structure, content and management of the programme. My hon. Friend also made clear the UK view that there was no justification for further legislation in this field.

The draft Council decision on the fourth programme to combat social exclusion was, once again, discussed without agreement, and the Commission reported progress on the consultation of the social partners under the other member states agreement on social policy on the reconciliation of professional and family life.

Resolutions on the image of men and women in the media, the fight against racism and xenophobia, and on co-operation with third countries in the field of youth were all agreed without discussion.