§ 21. Mr. Riddick
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if she will make a statement about the EC's proposals to introduce a 48-hour working week.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
The proposed working time directive was discussed at the Social Affairs Council on 24 June. I made it clear that the United Kingdom continues to have very severe doubts about the directive as a whole and its proposed legal base. In discussions on the text, the United Kingdom secured all its key objectives, in particular the right for employees to work for more than 48 hours a week if they choose to do so. Other member states continued to have difficulties with the directive as drafted and in consequence the Council did not reach a common position.