The government will never allow a genetic underclass to develop, Health Secretary Alan Milburn is expected to promise this week.

A Department of Health (DoH) spokesman has confirmed as “broadly true” newspaper reports that Milburn will warn insurers, mortgage providers and banks that they face tough new legislation if they use genetic science to discriminate against customers.

Milburn will speak at Newcastle University today (April 19) on advances in genetic science.

The DoH spokesman said he could not reveal the contents of Milburn's speech. However, he added: “It's certainly the case that he will be speaking on the issues.”

Media reports said Milburn was set to use the forum to pledge a tougher regulatory regime for insurance companies that seek to use the results of genetic testing.

They claimed he would prefer to see genetic tests used by the NHS to put Britain at the leading edge of health services.