No sooner has Peter Mandelson called a truce in the great "bra wars" than the European Commission brings us another dispute of the kind you couldn't make up. Today, MEPs will vote on the EU's proposed Optical Radiation directive, which aims to prevent manual workers such as welders from being exposed to harmful artificial radiation. Unfortunately, Mandy's chums on the Commission have drafted the law so that it holds employers responsible for protecting workers from the sun's radiation too. And that threatens to kill off a great British institution: the topless builder. Unlike other Euro-rows - think straight bananas, or metric martyrs - this one is transcending usual political divides, with opposition being led by the pro-European Liberal Democrat MEP, Liz Lynne. "This is a ludicrous situation," she says. "I'm pro-European, but this sort of thing brings the EU into disrepute, and I want it thrown out, for the sake of Britain's bare-chested builders. "There is no reason why an employer should be responsible for someone getting sunburn. In fact, several builders have told me that getting a tan is one of the perks of the job." Lynne is tabling an amendment, which has support from all but the powerful Socialist voting block in the parliament. Meanwhile, should Mandelson wish to preserve the right of an English bricklayer to display his manly chest, he'll need a quiet word with Vladimir Spidla, the Commissioner who drafted the directive. -Guy Adams, Pandora, The Independant.