Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussion he has held with the Secretaries of State for Education and Employment and for Social Security about the potential costs to business of the European social agenda. [139553]

    Mr. Alan Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities and I attended the Employment and Social Policy Council at which proposals for a new European Social Agenda were agreed on 28 November. The Agenda will now be considered by Heads of States at the Nice European Council in December. The Government made clear our support for an European Social Agenda which takes forward the Lisbon European Council objective that the European Community should become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. The agreed text will take forward this objective.

    The impact on business, including potential costs, is one of the factors that the Government as a whole take into account in its responses to proposals for the agenda and any measures brought forward to effect its implementation.