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Jo Glanville (Editor, Index on Censorship)
Jonathan Heawood (Director, English PEN)
Tony Jaffa (Head of the Media Team at Foot Anstey, Solicitors)
Sarah Jones (Head of Litigation and Intellectual Property, BBC)
Marcus Partington (Chair of Media Lawyers Association, and Legal Director, Mirror Group Newspapers)
Gillian Phillips (Director of Editorial Legal Services, The Guardian)
Gavin Phillipson (Professor at Durham Law School)
Mark Stephens (Partner at Stephens Finer Innocent, Solicitors)
Andrew Stephenson (Partner at Carter Ruck, Solicitors)
Paul Tweed (Senior Partner at Johnsons, Solicitors)
John Witherow (Editor, Sunday Times)
The Parliamentary Secretary, Government Equalities Office (Michael Jabez Foster): The Equality Bill, currently before the House of Lords, will outlaw unjustifiable age discrimination against adults aged 18 or over in the provision of services and the exercise of public functions. It also includes powers to make exceptions from the ban, so that we can make clear the beneficial and justifiable age-based practices which will be allowed to continue.
On 29 June 2009, we issued the consultation document "Equality Bill: Making it work-Ending age discrimination in services and public functions" inviting views on our developing policy for exceptions from the age discrimination ban and when the ban should be implemented. The consultation ended on 30 September 2009. Today we have issued "Equality Bill: Making it work-Ending age discrimination in services and public functions. A Policy Statement". This document summarises the consultation responses and sets out our plans for specific exceptions from the ban.
to eradicate harmful discrimination; and
to permit service providers to treat people of different ages differently where this is beneficial or justifiable or for good public policy reasons;
when services deal with individuals, they focus on the individual, taking account of his or her age where it is appropriate to do so, and where this helps to offer a personalised service.
We will create a specific exception to allow financial service providers to treat people of different ages differently, but only where this is proportionate to risks and costs. Prices can still be varied by age, where this genuinely reflects risk or costs and is not an arbitrary decision.
We will improve transparency by requiring financial service providers to publish aggregate data in respect of certain products that anyone can check.
We will improve access by requiring the providers of certain insurance products to operate a signposting and referrals system. Where this requirement applies and an insurer does not provide the service to a person because of their age, they will be required to refer the person to a supplier who can meet their needs or refer them to a dedicated signposting service.
Alongside the provisions relating to healthcare and financial services, we will enable any service provider in the public or private sector to use age as a criterion to determine the eligibility for concessions or benefits, where the purpose of the concession is to benefit the age group to which it applies.
We will provide an exception from the ban on age-discrimination to allow specialist group holidays to continue to be provided for people in particular age groups, provided that the age range for the holiday is clearly stated in the promotional material.
If holiday accommodation providers still use age limits then they will need to be able to objectively justify them.
We will explore the issues further before deciding the way forward on vehicle hire where we had not proposed an exception for age limits given firms ability to vary premiums in line with costs relating to insurance premiums.
These exceptions will be set out in an Order made under the power in clause 195 of the Bill. We intend to consult on the draft order in autumn 2010, giving people a further opportunity to comment before the exceptions are debated by both Houses of Parliament.
We are placing copies of the document in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available on the Government Equalities Office website at: www.equalities.gov.uk.
The Minister for Women and Equality (Ms Harriet Harman): Today the Government have published their official response to the National Equality Panel's report, "An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK". The National Equality Panel's report, which has also been published today, and the full Government response document can be found online at: www.equalities.gov.uk, and I have placed copies in the House of Commons Library. Printed copies of the NEP report and the Government's response are available upon request from the Government Equalities Office.
for individuals, who are entitled to fairness and to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and achieve their aspirations and not be held back;
for the economy, because the economy that will succeed in the future is one that draws on the talents of all; and,
for society, because an equal society is more cohesive and at ease with itself.
That is why I commissioned the National Equality Panel in 2008, chaired by Professor John Hills, to undertake an in-depth analysis of economic inequality in the UK today. The panel has examined how a range of factors-including gender, race, disability, social background and where people live-are associated with and influence how people fare at school and at work, their earnings, income and wealth.
The panel's report sets out the scale of the challenges that will need to be addressed if we are to effectively tackle inequality in the UK. The National Equality Panel's report confirms our strongly held view that public policy intervention can and does make a difference to economic inequalities.
We welcome the panel's groundbreaking report. We have made progress over the last 13 years. Some of the widest gaps in outcomes between social groups have been reduced, and trends reversed in the last decade. For example the attainment gap between black and white pupils fell from 18 per cent. in 1997 to 6 per cent. in 2008. The pay gap between men and women has also narrowed. But we are also determined to build on this and achieve more to create a fairer and more prosperous society. It is unacceptable that social background and other factors make so big a difference to the ability of people to fulfil their aspirations and potential.