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Equality Bill

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 25 June 2009

5. What recent representations she has received on the provisions of the Equality Bill affecting provision of goods and services on the basis of age. (282093)

We recently received representations on the Equality Bill’s provisions on age discrimination from Age Concern, Help the Aged, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Association of British Insurers, Saga and Kingfisher. We have held extensive discussions with a wide range of stakeholders to inform our work on a consultation document to be issued shortly.

A number of my constituents who are pensioners are either regularly refused insurance, or obliged to pay larger premiums because of their age. Given that the Bill is intended to go against any form of discrimination, including age discrimination, will the Minister give an assessment of how existing legislation is working regarding insurance for elderly people?

Of course, there is not a ban on age discrimination in the delivery of goods, facilities and services at present. The new Bill will be fed by the consultation. If discrimination is actuarially justified, it will not be age discrimination—it will operate on a different basis. At the moment, there is no need for any supplier to decide whether there is justification, but now they will have to make such decisions. The consultation document will come out very shortly, and it will help us to sculpt this so that we get all the bad things out and put all the good things in. I hope the hon. Gentleman will contribute to that document.