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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: A competition inquiry into the supply of compact discs was launched by the Office of Fair Trading on the 9th February. The inquiry will consider whether the way in which the record companies have responded to imports of cheaper CDs from elsewhere in the EU amounts to a breach of the Competition Act 1998. The inquiry is expected to take six months.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: No report is expected into the usage of Mirror Group Newspapers' pension funds by the late Robert Maxwell. However inspectors were appointed to investigate and report on the affairs and membership of Mirror Group Newspapers Plc and, in particular, to look at the flotation of the company in 1991. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State hopes to be in a position to make an announcement in the near future.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that an individual may invoke convention rights in any legal proceedings, including an application for judicial review, and also provides that individuals may bring cases on convention grounds alone. Aritcle 14 (Prohibition of Discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights provides for people to enjoy the protection of the convention rights without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status. This list is not exhaustive and could also include age, although it is not expressly mentioned. A case cannot be pursued on Article 14 grounds alone however; another convention right to which a claim of discrimination is attached must be involved. Discrimination for the purposes of Article 14 is a difference in treatment that has no reasonable and objective justification. In a health context, the articles most likely to be engaged are Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life).
The provision of first-class care in the National Health Service on the basis of clinical need is a priority. Discrimination of any kind--whether it is on the basis of age, race or gender--is completely unacceptable in the NHS and action is and will be taken to challenge and correct any such practices.
The forthcoming National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People will for the first time set national standards and define service models for older people's health and social care. The NSF will also stipulate that age discrimination will not be tolerated in the NHS, ensuring that any arbitrary policies based on age alone are eliminated. The NSF will ensure fair access for older people to health and social care services and promote their dignity, security and independence.
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