HC Deb 01 December 1978 vol 959 cc397-9W
Mr. English

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the meeting held by the EEC Council of Ministers (Labour and Social Affairs) on 27th November 1978 at which Her Majesty's Government were represented.

Mr. John Grant:

My right hon. Friend, the Minister for Social Security, my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office, and I represented the United Kingdom Government.

The Council successfully settled two important issues—the directive on the equal treatment of men and women in social security and the Social Fund aid for youth employment.

Under the directive on equal treatment in social security, member States will have six years to eliminate differences in treatment between men and women in most areas of social security provision. Pension ages and child benefits are excluded, as are increases of long-term benefits for a dependent spouse. The Council agreed that a further instrument should be prepared to apply the principle of equal treatment to occupational schemes.

I am glad to say that the Council also agreed on a new category of aid under the European Social Fund to promote employment of young people. The new aid will be available to assist schemes for recruitment subsidies for unemployed young people. The aid will also support job creation programmes of public benefit, excluding jobs in central Government or on the ordinary establishments of local authorities. The United Kingdom has already benefited considerably from the Social Fund and I would expect us to get a reasonable proportion of the new aid.

The Council received a progress report on the proposal for a directive on illegal migration and illegal employment. It was recognised that the proposal creates difficulties for this country and other member States, but discussions will continue with a view to finding a generally acceptable solution.

Among other subjects considered and noted by the Council were the 6th annual report of the European Social Fund and the second European social budget. In relation to the latter the Commission was invited to proceed towards proposals for a third social budget. The Council also heard an oral report from Commissioner Bredeling on the recent tripartite conference.

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