HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 cc56-7W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he has taken to ensure the right of establishment of British lecturers at Italian universities; and if he will make a statement. [77128]

Mr. Wilson

I have been asked to reply.

Mother-tongue foreign language teachers in Italian universities ("lettori"), most of whom are non-Italian nationals, are campaigning for recognition of their right under the Treaty of Rome to equality of employment conditions with their Italian colleagues in other disciplines.

The UK Government have been pursuing this issue with the European Commission and the Italian Government. My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe, whose responsibilities include completion of the Single Market, has written to Minister Letta, his Italian counterpart, to press for an early resolution of the problem. He also urged Minister Letta to ensure that individual university Rectors were aware of their obligation to respect the lettori's acquired rights under the Treaty of Rome. Our Embassy in Rome is currently following up this letter with the Italian authorities.

My noble Friend also wrote to Commissioner Flynn, supporting the infraction proceedings which the European Commission is currently bringing against the Italian authorities in respect of this issue. He received in return Mr. Flynn's assurance that he was fully committed to pursuing the matter.

The Government are committed to making the Single Market work, as much for individual citizens as for business. We will do all we can to help bring about a satisfactory solution to the problems faced by the lettori.