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June 26, 2008 9:33 AM

Liberal Democrat MEP Liz Lynne has today welcomed the announcement by the Government that it will bring forward legislation to combat discrimination on the grounds of age in access to goods and services ahead of European legislation in this field that was on the cards.

Liz Lynne was dubbed the "EU's equality rapporteur" after recently securing the adoption of a European Parliament report calling for an EU Directive to outlaw discrimination in access to goods and services covering all areas presently excluded, including disability, age, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The European Commission has since agreed to bring forward legislation to this end.

Commenting on today's announcement Liz Lynne MEP, who is Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, said:

"I am delighted that the Government has seen sense and will bring forward long overdue legislation to outlaw age discrimination in access to goods and services. These measures are vital if we are to put an end to the current hierarchy of rights and the ridiculous idea that it is alright to discriminate against one section of society."

"I have always said, for instance, it is wrong for the health service to be able to refuse treatment on the grounds of age alone. I now hope with this new bill that no patient will be refused a transplant or any other procedure, which has happened in the past. Medical professionals, I hope will now have to take into account more factors than just age when assessing the need for treatment of a patient.

"This debate is echoed across the European Union and the European Parliament, in adopting my recent report, sent a strong signal to the UK and other Member States that their could be no compromise when it comes to anti-discrimination and human rights, which I believe is the basis on which the European Union was founded.

"My hope is the UK Government will now lobby other Member States to support the European Commission's decision to bring forward comprehensive EU legislation to outlaw discrimination in access to goods and services on all grounds currently not covered, including disability, age, religion or belief and sexual orientation."



Text of Liz Lynne's report as adopted by the European Parliament last month; http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A6-2008-0159&language=EN

Liz Lynne's campaign and petition to persuade the Commission and member States to press ahead with a comprehensive directive can be found here: www.signtostopdiscrimination.org

Current EU anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace on all grounds (Employment Directive 2000) but only provides protection against discrimination in access to goods and services on the basis of gender and race (Equal Treatment Directive and the Race Directive respectively).

UK age-discrimination legislation currently only covers the workplace. In contrast, laws that combat discrimination on racial grounds or on grounds of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief are much broader, extending protection to individuals in their dealings with suppliers of goods and services.