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Age: Discrimination

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of (a) levels of public support for and (b) potential harmful consequences of the marketing of (i) products and (ii) holidays directly to specific age groups. (269474)

The consultation paper “A Framework for Fairness: Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain” (June 2007), called for evidence of unfair age discrimination in the supply of goods, facilities and services. The majority of the nearly 750 responses on this issue (around 80 per cent.) were in favour of legislation to tackle harmful age discrimination outside the workplace, but only a small number of respondents felt that the marketing of products and holidays to specific age groups was discriminatory and very few felt that such marketing was harmful.

We have been taking forward discussions with relevant representatives of industry and stakeholders with an interest in age discrimination to better understand the benefits and consequences of the ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services we are including in the Equality Bill. These discussions have helped us develop an approach which takes account of the need to ensure that the legislation does not prevent service providers offering age-specific goods and services where this is beneficial or can be justified. We will consult on our detailed proposals for the exceptions from the ban on age discrimination in the summer.

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what recent assessment she has made of her policy on (a) age-based concessions in the insurance industry and (b) age limits on group holidays. (269512)

We have always been clear that the legislation banning age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services—to be included in the Equality Bill—will bite on harmful age discrimination and allow justifiable and beneficial age-based practices to continue.

The legislation will not prevent different treatment on grounds of age in the provision of insurance, where this is based on actuarial evidence. Nor will it prevent holidays for particular age groups.

Consideration of how to frame the legislation is continuing, taking account of relevant evidence such as the October 2008 report of the Financial Services Expert Working Group established by Government to provide and analyse evidence of the implications and impacts of outlawing age discrimination, and recent research published by the Association of British Insurers in March 2009. In addition, the Government Equalities Office has recently commissioned additional independent research to explore this area further.

We will consult on our detailed proposals for the exceptions from the ban on age discrimination in the summer.