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The working group will be chaired by Rowena Collins-Rice, Director-General, Democracy, Constitution and Law and Chief Legal Officer at the Ministry of Justice.

Women and Equality

Equality Bill

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.

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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.

We want the legislation to have the same effects in health and social care as in other sectors, that is:

and to ensure that:

In doing this, we will act in accordance with the relevant recommendations of the recent review "Achieving age equality in health and social care".

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.

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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:

National Equality Panel

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:, 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.

To build a modern, prosperous society, we have to tackle the barriers that unfairly hold people back and give everyone the opportunity to succeed. Equality matters in the modern world:

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.

The Government will continue to make the choices that prioritise fairness and aspiration.

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