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Social Chapter

Volume 301: debated on Tuesday 25 November 1997

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If he will make a statement on those provisions for bringing forward legislation in the social chapter which operate under qualified majority voting. [16004]

Under the agreement on social policy, legislation can be adopted by qualified majority in five areas: health and safety; working conditions; information and consultation of workers; equal treatment of men and women at work; and integration of those excluded from the labour market.

If in those five areas a matter should come up that is not in the British interest, how does the Minister propose to protect our interest, now that the Government have given away our veto; or does he anticipate that the Government will automatically agree with every measure in those five areas?

Conservative Members are getting repetitive. Before 1 May, the hon. Lady was a member of a Government who had such bad relationships with Europe that they could make no progress on any front, and particularly on the important front of the employment agenda to which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary referred. Now British people have the opportunity to influence what is happening with the social chapter. That is a big advance, and everyone knows it.