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Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: I pause to see whether the Minister wishes to respond to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, because the element of discretion is extremely important. I had understood that there was discretion, but I may have misread the Bill. Perhaps the Minister will clarify this matter because it is very important. Indeed, if it is not clarified to my satisfaction, I would certainly consider raising this matter again at a later stage.

I am surprised that the noble Earl--and I beg his pardon--Lord Caithness had not thought of intervening on the amendment, because I should have thought that he might wish to express strong opposition to it. In view of what he said earlier about architects, I thought that he might consider that on every possible occasion, for whatever error had been committed, architects should be subject to the provisions of the Bill and to disciplinary action. But perhaps on reflection, the noble Earl feels that his earlier language was rather strong and therefore is prepared to go along with the amendment.

Although in the circumstances I must withdraw the amendment at this stage, if there is no discretion I may return to the matter on Report. It may well be that in the interval between now and Report, the Minister will write to me to point out what both the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and I have missed or, alternatively, I may discover for myself that the element of discretion exists satisfactorily.

Lord Monkswell: Perhaps I may intervene to ask the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, what discretion he suggests should be written in. It would concern me greatly if all allegations were not investigated. The Bill is silent as to the extent of those investigations. I would hope that even where an accusation has been made that appears vexatious, some degree of investigation, even though it may be fairly minimal, takes place and that no accusation or allegation is dismissed as trivial or insubstantial.

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As I said, the Bill as I read it does not give any explanation as to how much investigation would take place. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, will accept that we must ensure that all allegations are investigated, even though it may not be in great depth.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: I agree with that. It is an extremely important point because there must be no presumption of any matter being vexatious. It must be investigated to see whether or not it is. However, I have tabled this amendment in these precise terms to ensure that anything which is not serious or repeated should not have the results which are set out in Clause 117. But I can see from the movement of the Minister that he has extremely important matters to divulge to the Committee.

Lord Lucas: I really wish to stand by what I said in my initial answer. Clearly, reading Clause 117, if it appears to the registrar that a person may be guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or incompetence or if an allegation is made to that effect, then the matter will be investigated. There is no discretion there.

The discretion comes in at the next stage when the persons investigating the case must find that a registered person has a case to answer. That is the first filter. Unsubstantiated allegations will drop out at that stage. The professional conduct committee must then satisfy itself that what is alleged has actually occurred. I presume that some allegations will drop out at that stage too. The professional conduct committee may then find that what has occurred is of such little import that it makes no award against the architect concerned.

Those are the three levels of discretion which exist in the Bill as amended once my amendments are accepted. I believe that that is the right arrangement and that people can be sure that their allegations will be investigated. However, there are adequate filters to make sure that unsubstantiated allegations do not take up a lot of time.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: I am grateful to the Minister. I believe that he provides some reassurance for me and for the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, by setting out the various stages which are followed in those circumstances. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 204, 205, 206, 207 and 208:

Page 68, leave out lines 28 to 37 and insert--
("(1) The Professional Conduct Committee may make a disciplinary order in relation to a registered person if--
(a) it is satisfied, after considering his case, that he is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or professional incompetence; or
(b) he has been convicted of a criminal offence other than an offence which has no material relevance to his fitness to practise as an architect.").
Page 69, line 4, leave out from ("persons") to ("disciplinary") in line 8 and insert ("whom it has found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or professional incompetence or in relation to whom it has made a disciplinary order under subsection (1)(b); and

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(b) in the case of each person a description of the conduct, incompetence or offence concerned and the nature of any").
Page 69, line 23, leave out ("(1)") and insert ("(1)(a)").
Page 69, line 26, leave out ("(2)") and insert ("(1)(b)").
Page 69, line 34, leave out ("penalty order or a suspension") and insert ("suspension order or an erasure").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to these amendments when I moved Amendment No. 202. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 117, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 118 agreed to.

Clause 119 [Offence of practising while not registered]:

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank moved Amendment No. 209:

Page 71, line 4, after second ("Act")") insert--
("(a) in subsection (1), after " "Architect" " where it first occurs, insert "nor in the course of business hold himself out to be such by the use of similar words"; and

The noble Lord said: Members of the Committee may think that this matter is rather separate from the revision of the Architects Registration Acts, which is the important part of Part III. But I think it is wholly appropriate that I should briefly raise this question because it involves an extremely important measure of consumer protection.

By defining what an architect is and which form of words so describes a registered architect, the amendment seeks to prevent those who might believe that there is some advantage in being thought to be an architect sailing under false colours, adopting misleading identities and in effect disguising themselves as architects.

I know that over a long period of time, the existing registration body has had a great deal to do in trying to ensure that clients and the public are under no misunderstanding as to who is and is not entitled to call himself an architect. There was very limited provision--and I refer to naval architects in the original legislation of 1931.

If any Members of the Committee look at the yellow pages of a telephone directory or in a local newspaper, they will see that many individuals purport to sail under that title. Some of them use a spelling like a-r-k-i-t-e-c-t because that spells out phonetically the word "architect". Some refer to themselves as providing architects' design services and some refer to a complete architectural service. It is reasonable for lay people to assume that those people are qualified and registered architects. They may then be misled into employing individuals who are not qualified to do the job for which they have been sought.

Again, I look at the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, when I say that I wish to make it absolutely clear that there is no intention here at all to exclude from the performance of their proper skills members of other professions. However, I am sure that the noble Earl would not like any individual to masquerade with the title of "surveyor" if he were not qualified to do so. All I am

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suggesting is that this Chamber should contribute towards making it more difficult for those who are not architects, who are not qualified and who have not been entered within the profession to claim that they are so.

I hope that the Minister will not suggest that the problem is common to all professions. Whether or not it is remains to be seen. If the Minister claims that it is, I should like to have illustrations, for example, from the profession of medicine which do not cause problems that ought to be remedied. But if indeed it is common to other professions, that, of itself, is hardly a case for failing to remedy the abuse of the position of architect under the provisions of the Bill. Why should we fail to do what ought to be done simply because the opportunity is not before us to do likewise for other professions?

The alternative argument is that we should educate the public. Well, we have had 65 years of seeking to educate the public about who is or is not a registered architect. Within the provisions now before the Committee, it may be possible for the new registration body to run a campaign to help the public understand who is and who is not an architect. But, as I said, there has been limited success in that respect. The existing registration body has spent a good deal of time seeking to protect the public from those who have masqueraded as architects in one way or another.

I am sure that the Minister will deplore misrepresentation in so far as some people claim to be architects when they are not so qualified. However, if the Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment today because it is not, perhaps, ideally drafted, it would be most reassuring if he would undertake to consider a similar amendment at a later stage. Whatever the outcome of today's discussion, that is something I should like to consider in the light of the Minister's response. I beg to move.

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