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Column 134"A" point. EC/Canada Scientific and Technological Agreement 13 14 March: Transport Council
Promotion of rail and combined transport (draft resolution) High-speed train interoperability (political agreement) Harmonisation of national boatmasters' certificates (common position)
Working time and training in road transport sector (draft resolution)
Dangerous goods adviser (common position)
Carriage of dangerous goods by rail (common position)
Agreement of mandate for negotiations with Switzerland on road and air transport
Ro-Ro ferry safety (ISM code) (political agreement)
Maritime statistics (adoption)
Maritime policy and external relations (orientation debate) Aviation-- external relations (orientation debate)
Aviation--flagging out (draft resolution)
Trans-European Networks (general debate)
20 March: ECOFIN
Court of Auditors report on 1993 budget
27 March: Social Affairs Council
Postal workers directive
Memorandum on social clauses in trade agreements
Resolution on implementation of legislation in the social field Resolution on the role of women in decision making
Acquired rights directive (possible)
27 28 March: Agriculture Council
Price fixing proposals
Plant Breeders Rights Office
Report on milk quota implementations in Italy and Greece (possible)
30 March: Consumer Council
Follow up to Commission's Green Papers on Access to Justice and on Guarantees and After-sales service.
Discussion of French memorandum on future areas for
Reviews of directives on consumer credit, toys, and cosmetic products
Labelling of products
Cross border payments
Amendments of directives on unit pricing: possible adoption of common position as "A" point
Distance Selling Directive: common position (likely)
Precious metals directive
31 March: Education/Youth Council
Decision adopting the European Year of Education and
Resolution on improving and diversifying language learning and teaching within the EU
Conclusion of Education/training co-operation agreements with the US and Canada
Recognition of the academic and professional qualifications Postgraduate mobility
Resolution on Youth Information
Mr. Raymond S. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will
Column 135make a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 to 7 February.
Mr. David Davis: The Council unanimously agreed the mandate to enable the Commission to open GATT article XXIV.6 negotiations with interested GATT contracting parties on compensation for tariff increases in Austria, Sweden and Finland following their accession to the European Union. No vote was taken. On EU-US relations, M. Juppe reported briefly on his recent visit with Sir Leon Brittan to the US.
The Presidency and the Commission updated Ministers on preparations for the concluding conference to adopt the stability pact in Paris on 20 to 21 March.
The Council agreed, without a vote, an EC position on trade policy measures for the mid-term review of the fourth Lome convention, to present to the African, Caribbean and Pacific side in preparation for the EU-ACP ministerial meeting on 16 to 17 February. The Council also discussed the eighth European development fund, which will finance the second half of the Convention. The Presidency called a special meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 15 February, the eve of the EU-ACP ministerial meeting to discuss the size of the EU offer for EDF VIII.
The Council discussed current issues in the WTO, and possible new issues for WTO consideration. There was agreement on the importance of ensuring that the WTO was able to function effectively; and that outstanding sectoral negotiations were completed within the timetable agreed at the end of the Uruguay round. The Council asked the article 113 Committee and COREPER to prepare negotiating directives for the outstanding services negotiations for the Council to consider on 6 March. On new issues, the Presidency requested the Commission, in liaison with the Article 113 Committee, to produce discussion documents on the various subjects suggested for WTO consideration at the April 1994 Marrakesh meeting.
The Council agreed on the need for the early appointment of the WTO Director-General, and decided to make further efforts to promote the candidature of Mr. Ruggiero.
There was no substantive discussion on rum. The Commission proposals were referred to the working group for further discussion, before returning to the 6 March FAC. Lady Chalker restated UK support for the total abolition of all quotas on ACP and OCT rum by 1 January 1996.
The Council discussed developments in Chechnya and issued a statement
The Council discussed the implementation of the G7 action plan on nuclear safety to Ukraine.
On the Mediterranean, the Commission reported on progress in the negotiations for new agreements with Israel, Morocco and Tunisia. The Council discussed the terms for customs union with Turkey and the forthcoming review of the Cypriot application for the EU membership.
The Council reiterated support for a peaceful resolution of conflict in the former Yugoslavia. They stressed the importance of recognition between the states which emerged from the former Yugoslavia.
On Croatia, the Council recalled its support for the international conference on the former Yugoslavia's plan for a political solution and called upon the parties to begin
Column 136negotiations. It reaffirmed its support for the presence of UNPROFOR in Croatia.
The Council reached a political agreement on the data protection directive and accompanying minutes statements. The UK indicated that it would abstain when the directive came as an A point to a future Council.
On relations with central and eastern Europe, the presidency outlined its plans for implementing the pre-accession strategy for central European associates agreed at the Essen European Council. There were linguistic scrutiny reserves from Finland and Sweden. The Council agreed the following unanimously as A points: a partnership agreement with Kyrgyzstan; negotiating positions in the WTO on non-preferential rules of origin; a decision giving continued support to the European Union Administration of the town of Mostar; amendments to the Council's rules of procedure following enlargement; Council regulations on certain imported wines and amendments to regulations on the important of wines, grape juice and grape must.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the British Government's policy as to the future of Gibraltar's airport.
Mr. Norris: I have been asked to reply.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 22 November 1994, Official Report Column 108 by my hon. friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Miss Lestor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the improvement likely to result from the new united secretariat of the WHO global programme on AIDS; and if he will make it his policy to keep the matter under review.
Mr. Baldry: The new joint and co-sponsored United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS--due to start in January 1996--will develop common policies and strategies to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic for the six co-sponsoring agencies: World Health Organisation, United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and the World bank. The programme aims to improve co-ordination of UN agency support for HIV/AIDS action at country level, to lead to more effective prevention of HIV infection, and better care for those infected. The progress of the new programme in meeting its objectives will be closely monitored.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring is undertaken of the human rights situation in Nigeria by the British high commission in Lagos; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 6 March 1995]: Our high commission follows developments in the human rights situation closely. We have regular contacts with a wide
Column 137range of Nigerian human rights organisations and other groups, and have made our concerns clear to the Nigerian Government.
Ms Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Government's policy on the UN decision to request units of the army of Zaire to police camps for displaced Rwandese in Zaire; what operational resources the UN has put in place to ensure that the Zairean military authorities comply with international standards, including the protection of the rights of refugees; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry: The United Kingdom has contributed £0.5 million towards the UNHCR's costs for the 50-man international camp security liaison group being set up to monitor the operation and liaise with the Zaire authorities under the agreement on camp security signed between the UNHCR and Zaire.
13. Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he has made of the effect of high non-wage labour costs on employment prospects.
Mr. Portillo: Non-wage labour costs are lower in the United Kingdom than in most countries of the European Union. Higher burdens imposed on employers make it more difficult for them to create jobs.
14. Dr. Moonie: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of two-adult households have (a) two earners or (b) no earners.
Mr. Oppenehim: Latest estimates from the summer 1994 labour force survey show that, of two-adult households in which at least one person is of working age, 13 per cent. have neither adult in employment, while 56 per cent. have both adults in employment.
15. Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has for improving child care to assist women into employment.
Miss Widdecombe: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle).
16. Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what financial or other assistance he will make available to carpet workers in Wilton who may be offered alternative jobs in Bradford in the wake of the closure of the Wilton royal carpet factory.
Mr. Paice: It would be inappropriate for the Government to intervene in an individual's decision to relocate to another part of the country. For those members of staff who decide that they are unable to relocate, the Employment Service and Wiltshire training and enterprise
Column 138council have set up a range of initiatives designed to help them secure alternative employment.
17. Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures for unemployment; and what were the equivalent figures in June 1979.
Mr. Portillo: On the seasonally adjusted basis there were 2,389, 700 people claiming unemployment-related benefits in January 1995 compared with 1,067,400 in June 1979.
23. Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what further measures he proposes to reduce unemployment in the next two years.
Miss Widdecombe: The Government will continue with the policies which created 266,000 new jobs last year, and reduced unemployment by 582,000 since December 1992, and will resist measures which destroy jobs, such as the social chapter, the national minimum wage and a training levy.
18. Mr. Reddick: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is (a) the United Kingdom current strike record and (b) that in Germany; and what were the figures in 1979.
Mr. Oppenheim: In 1993, the United Kingdom and Germany each lost 600,000 days to labour disputes. In 1979, the United Kingdom lost 29.5 million days, over 50 times West Germany's total of 500,000 million.
19. Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he last met his fellow EU Employment Ministers to discuss youth employment.
Mr. Paice: Employment matters naturally feature prominently in the discussions my right hon. and hon. Friends have had with their ministerial counterparts. I am pleased to say that, at 14 per cent., youth unemployment in the United Kingdom is much lower than the Community average of 19.6 per cent. This shows the benefits to young people of the Government's policy of promoting flexibility in the labour market.
21. Mr. Ernie Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many workplace nurseries are presently in operation.
Miss Widdecombe: We do not have the precise figures requested. However, in the 1990 British social attitudes survey, 5 per cent. of employees interviewed said they had an employer's nursery available to them.
22. Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many redundancies have been notified on Merseyside in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Oppenheim: According to the summer 1994 labour force survey, 22,000 people in the north-west had
Column 139been made redundant in the three months prior to interview. Information is not available for Merseyside.
24. Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if there is a single employment market in the European Union.
Mr. Portillo: In practice, there is a range of largely separate labour markets within the European Union and its member states.
25. Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of part-time jobs are taken by women with an earning partner.
Mr. Oppenheim: Latest estimates from the summer 1994 labour force survey show that 59 per cent. of people whose main job was part time were women with a partner in employment.
26. Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received about the targets proposed for training and enterprise councils in 1995 96.
Mr. Paice: Negotiations are currently taking place between the Department and individual training and enterprise councils about contracts for 1995 96. Discussions about targets form part of those negotiations.