Social Chapter

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 1:43 pm on 19th February 1997.

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Photo of Alan Simpson Alan Simpson , Nottingham South 1:43 pm, 19th February 1997

Since my question was about how many firms said that they would not come here if we had the social chapter, and how many would leave if we adopted it, I presume that the answer that the Minister was looking for was, "None".

Is not the more typical attitude of UK industry to share the views of Unilever and United Biscuits, which said that it would be counter-productive to exclude British workers from the provisions of the social chapter? Are the Government not embarrassed to set a benchmark in Europe in which Britain offers no employment rights, low employment protection, no parental leave and no consultation rights at all?

As the Government take their soap-opera policies into Europe, is not it appropriate for the citizens of the UK to ask that the Minister looks for something more inspirational than Ministers behaving badly as the model to which we aspire?