§ Mr. Maclennan
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to promote equality between(a) older people, (b) disabled people, (c) ethnic minorities, (d) religious minorities, (e) women and (f) gay and lesbian people, and the rest of the population in each case, with respect to the services and employment overseen by his Department. 
§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 14 December 2000]: As an equal opportunities employer, the Department is committed to fairness and equality of opportunity for all in employment, and advancement on the basis of suitability. The Department's equal opportunities statement requires that no eligible job applicant should receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, religion or religious affiliation or because they work part-time.
As an employer we aim to develop the Department into an organisation that values the diversity of its staff and enables all to realise their potential by valuing the contribution of all and recognising the positive benefits that difference can bring.302W
We have also made it clear that there is no place for discrimination or harassment in the National Health Service on grounds of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race or ethnicity or religion. The NHS Plan explicitly states that every member of staff in the NHS is entitled to work in an organisation that is committed to improving diversity and tackling racial discrimination and harassment. The NHS work force must reflect the population it serves in order to deliver sensitive and appropriate services.
A number of measures are in hand in both the Department and the NHS which have the aim of further promoting fair and equal treatment of all staff. These include improving recruitment and retention of black and ethnic minority staff, and also widening employment opportunities for disabled people; and targets have been set for measuring success in both areas. The Department is also following the Department for Education and Employment voluntary Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment and NHS employers are being encouraged to do the same.
In respect of all the services that this Department oversees or provides, we aim to ensure that all our policies, programmes and services are taken forward in line with the joint-departmental guidelines, "Policy Appraisal for Equal Treatment", issued in 1998.