§ Mr. Alex Carlile
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to introduce specific legislation to end age discrimination in employment recruitment; and if he will make a statement.
§ Miss Widdecombe
We are well aware that some employers discriminate on age grounds. This is wasteful and short-sighted. However, legislation does not offer a satisfactory solution. If this country is to prosper employers must, as far as possible, be free to manage their own affairs. Legislation to regulate their behaviour can only be appropriate, therefore, if:(a) it would solve a problem, and (b) it is the only solution. Experience from abroad confirms that legislation against age discrimination meets neither of these criteria.
The right approach is to persuade employers of the benefits of treating people on merit, regardless of age. Through the work of our advisory group on older workers this is just what we are doing. The recent launch of "Getting On", offering employers a five-point plan to avoid agism, demonstrates our commitment to promoting the interests of older people at work.