Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1

  Tony Blair has asked me to respond to your letter of 31 May regarding age discrimination in employment, in my capacity as Shadow Employment Minister.

  The issue of age discrimination must be tackled for a number of economic and social reasons:

  First, if we throw people out of the labour market at 40-plus; or even earlier, many families will not be able to maintain themselves for 40 or more years without becoming reliant on state support. 15 years from now, for the first time ever, Britain's over 50 population will be larger than the 15-44 age group. For this reason, the state will simply not be able to keep up with the costs of age discrimination.

  Second, industry often benefits from the skills and experience of older workers. The assumption that older workers do not learn as quickly or as easily as their younger colleagues has been proved wrong in various studies that have been undertaken. Older workers have been shown to demonstrate loyalty to companies and their contribution has proved overwhelmingly to be a valuable one.

  Third, discrimination is morally wrong. Employment is about more than just earning wages, important though that is. Work gives people a sense of dignity and purpose. Studies have shown that people wish to work even if they do not need the money. Older people are as entitled to this dignity as anyone else.

  For these reasons, the next Labour Government will introduce legislation to make age discrimination illegal, just as discrimination on the grounds of race and sex are today. We are currently talking with a group of experts to decide exactly what form this legislation might take. Our commitment, however, is clear: age discrimination has no place in a modern economy and will take steps to remove it.

Ian McCartney MP

Shadow Employment Minister

18 August 1995

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 27 March 2001