§ Mrs. Fitzsimons
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress there has been on the review of maternity pay and parental leave. 
§ Mr. Byers
I am pleased to announce the publication today of the Green Paper "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice". I have placed a copy of the Green Paper in the Libraries of the House.
This Green Paper is the result of extensive discussions with parents, employers and their representatives. It marks an important stage in the most comprehensive review of work and parents ever undertaken by a Government in Britain.
The Green Paper sets out a number of options on the key issues and invites people to indicate which options are of greatest priority to them and will best balance the needs of working parents and business. The Government will then decide how best to proceed.
This is the first step towards a future where being a good parent and a good employee are not in conflict. Supporting parents to balance family life and work commitments enable parents to make a full contribution to the competitiveness and productivity of our economy. It also helps to ensure that British business is able to recruit and retain skilled employees while maintaining the flexibility essential to compete globally.
This document looks at how choice for both parents and employers might be achieved. This is an opportunity to shape a new deal to support parents and business. The closing date for comments is 7 March 2001.