HC Deb 13 June 1995 vol 261 cc588-9
8. Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the aims of the "Too Old, Who Says?" campaign; and if he will make a statement. [26477]

Miss Widdecombe

The campaign for older workers aims to counter age discrimination in the workplace. It is targeted at employers, recruitment agencies and older workers. The advice, guidance and support provided through publications, promotional events and media coverage seek to increase the number and range of job opportunities available to older workers.

Mr. Spring

Does my hon. Friend agree that unwarranted age restrictions on jobs can deprive employers of valuable and experienced potential employees? Will my hon. Friend therefore join me in applauding the increase in the upper age limit for the training for work programme from 59 to 63 so as to reduce any possibility of age discrimination?

Miss Widdecombe

I heartily endorse everything that my hon. Friend says. Employers who arbitrarily impose age restrictions are missing out on a wealth of talent and on very important resources. The economy is missing out on not being able to use the talents of such people. It was in recognition of the fact that older workers should be invested in as far as possible up to the age of retirement that we raised the training for work age limit from 59 to 63 as well as introduced a number of other measures which have benefited older workers.

Mr. Winnick

Does the Minister agree that any form of discrimination, especially age, is unacceptable? However, is there not a danger that the slogan "Too Old, Who Says?" could be undermined by Lady Thatcher's latest efforts to undermine this discredited and dying Government?

Miss Widdecombe

If that is the best that the hon. Gentleman can manage, the Opposition clearly have no commitment to older workers. If all they can manage is crude political abuse when we are discussing a matter of major importance to thousands of workers, I ask again what I asked earlier: how can the Labour party even claim to represent British workers of any age when it does not treat such issues seriously?

Mr. Waterson

Has my hon. Friend seen last year's manpower survey, which showed that some three quarters of employers were seriously considering making greater use of older workers? Does that not show that British industry is well aware of the enormous resource represented by the ability and experience of older workers?

Miss Widdecombe

Indeed, and more crucially, it shows that the Government's campaign on behalf of older workers has been a tremendous success. It proves that industry is absorbing the message and is now preparing to act on that message. The findings of that survey were a tribute to our campaign. I hope that they will be welcomed by the Opposition.

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