Social Chapter 'cannot be resisted': Labour discussion paper puts Europe at 'heart of its policies'. Patricia Wynn Davies reports

THE Government will be powerless to resist pressure to implement the Social Chapter of the Maastricht treaty in Britain, a paper to be examined by the first meeting of Labour's National Policy Forum next weekend predicts.

The paper, which says Europe is 'at the heart' of Labour's policies and 'central to its actions', restates the party's commitment to the treaty, in the wake of renewed criticism over the potentially lethal effect of the new amendment two to the Report Stage of the Maastricht ratification Bill.

As Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, was preparing to announce today whether she would allow a vote on the amendment, George Robertson, Labour's European affairs spokesman, strongly denied that the move, if successful, would wreck the Bill and the treaty.

Amendment two is modelled on Labour's earlier amendment 27, but is now an all-party proposal backed by almost 300 MPs across the political spectrum, including Tory rebels. It removes from the Bill the Social Chapter opt-out negotiated by John Major at Maastricht. If allowed by Miss Bothroyd, the vote could end in an embarrassing defeat for the Government tomorrow.

The policy forum paper, drawn up by Labour's international committee, argues that the Government's resistance to the chapter's provisions, which guarantee minimum rights at work, is futile. It says: 'It will be possible for Britain to sign up at any time to the Social Chapter, given a change of government or of policy . . . furthermore there will also be strong pressure to consolidate the chapter in the treaty in 1996 when the EC governments will discuss further treaty revisions. It is difficult to believe that the Government will want to remain so completely isolated from the determination of what is such a central policy in the certain knowledge that at some future date it will apply . . . in the UK.'

Pressure on Miss Boothroyd to allow MPs to vote on amendment two intensified yesterday as Jack Cunningham, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: 'To deny the Opposition a vote on an issue of this kind is without any precedent.'

The vexed debate dates from the dispute over the legal advice proffered by the Government on the earlier Committee Stage amendment 27. Michael Morris, the Deputy Speaker, allowed a debate on that, but later refused a vote, provoking uproar and accusations that MPs were irrelevant to the ratification process. But a motion of no confidence in Mr Morris was heavily defeated.

Bill Cash, the leading Tory rebel, said yesterday that Miss Boothroyd 'need feel no inhibition' about allowing the vote. It was clear after that controversy that MPs did not back the no-confidence motion, he said.

But the self-same MPs - in a 'unique' agreement between all the main opposition parties - had made it abundantly clear that they wanted a vote. While the Government insists that, legally, the amendment, if successful, would not block ratification or change its policy on the opt- out, it appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent MPs having a say over whether it should be added to the Bill.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy