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Lord Howie of Troon: Has that Bill come before this Chamber?

Lord Lucas: Yes, indeed, I replied to its Second Reading.

Lord Howie of Troon: Is the Committee stage yet to come? Will we then discuss the matter to which the noble Lord has just referred?

Lord Lucas: I look forward to it. I was merely pointing out that there was no protection as regards the title of "surveyor". Indeed, the surveyors themselves who are promoting that Bill do not seem to have the worries that the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, said they would. I hope that I have persuaded the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, that any expansion of protection of title would be a complex matter and that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: The Minister is, of course, right in saying that the matter of this amendment was not subject to any discussion between the profession and his department. I clearly said in my opening remarks that this might not seem to be wholly appropriate to the Architects (Registration) Act but that this was a suitable opportunity of the kind noble Lords seek to take to introduce desirable change on the basis of legislation before the Chamber.

I am sorry that there should be any misunderstanding about the amendment. With great respect to the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, I want to make it absolutely clear that, having seen the professions working together in the construction industry over a considerable period of time, it is only by working as a team that we can expect to achieve the quality of building which I know--despite his unfortunate experience--he and I would both like to see. Architects are very much dependent upon chartered surveyors. They work closely with structural engineers, building service engineers and civil engineers, and with many other professions. Nothing that I say today should

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be thought to cast doubt upon that or to imply that I should like architects--of which I am not one--to take work away from those in other professions whom they are dependent upon and who do excellent work within this industry.

The noble Earl referred to the amendments being ambiguous. Clearly I puzzled the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, who said he thought that the amendment went too far. He believed the implication was that it prevented others from offering professional services. However, at present a man and woman with no qualifications in any profession can choose to use a form of description which could mislead the public.

The Minister believed that potential clients or clients would not be easily misled by the form of language to which I referred earlier. I hope the Minister will remember that many clients are small, once in a lifetime clients. They wish to extend their house; or perhaps a widow wishes to spend some money left to her on the death of her husband. Those men and women have no experience of the profession. They assume that there are regulations which prevent anyone who is not an architect purporting to be one. The purpose of my amendment is solely to protect such persons from the possibility of misrepresentation.

I recognise what the Minister says about a grey area. He seemed to be more passionate for consultation than Ministers usually are. I do not believe that it is a complex matter. The provision could be changed on the face of the Bill now if the Minister so wished and the Committee so decided. However, in view of the misunderstandings which appear to be common to both sides of the Chamber, I do not press the amendment. I shall consider fully what has been said, including the support received from the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. I shall consider whether it will be proper to come back to the matter at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 119 agreed to.

Clauses 120 and 121 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Architects]:

[Amendment No. 210 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

6.30 p.m.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank moved Amendment No. 211:


Page 87, line 4, leave out from ("represent") to end of line 5 and insert ("consumer and public interests, none of whom should be from other trades or professions seen to be competitive with architects").

The noble Lord said: This is perhaps the most important of the amendments that I have put before the Committee today. The Minister may agree that the success or failure of the new body is dependent upon its structure, in particular the existence of the board. There has been a major step forward--I hope that Members on both sides of the Chamber will fully understand it--in the provision in the Bill for the governing body of registration in this country. The old council of ARCUK

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consisted of 77 members while the proposed new body consists of only 15. More importantly--it is the kernel of my amendment--of the 77 members of the old council, only seven were non-architects while a majority of the small new board will be independents. Under the provisions of the statutes, the great majority of ARCUK were members of the RIBA. There is no guarantee that the existing professional bodies will be represented in the elections of members of the new board, despite the fact that the RIBA represents 70 per cent. of the profession.

It is important--it is why I wholly support the provisions of the Bill--that if this new body is to be genuinely representative of the public, and within the intention of the Government the profession should not have a majority on the board. On the other hand, if this legislation is to be a success and to last as long as the previous legislation, the new body must have the full confidence of the profession. There is real concern within the profession about the proportion--a minority--of elected members to be appointed to the board, with no special provision for the representation of the professional bodies.

I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, considered whether it might be desirable to reverse the proportions. He decided not to proceed, I think rightly. But his thoughts fairly reflected the representations that many architects might make: that it is a step too far to reverse the proportions on what is a small board. To that extent the provision is a revolutionary change; and it is not surprising that architects have anxieties about it.

Their anxiety is compounded by the fear that the Bill as drafted will admit as independents (if I may use that word to describe those who are nominated effectively by the Government) men and women from professions competing with architects in the construction process, or those seeking to qualify for registration as architects when hitherto they have not done so. I hope the Minister will say that it is not the Government's intention to provide among those independents for professions which compete with the architects' profession any more than that would be appropriate if any of the other professions in the construction industry had such a registration Bill.

It is easy for many of us to assume that the profession is dominated by a number of large, well known firms or by very distinguished architects who are almost household names. That is not the case. It is a profession of small practices which on the whole have small clients. Those small clients are very diverse. Perhaps I may give three examples. There is the sole practitioner who had 32 projects in the past year, 25 of which were for domestic extensions, the largest an extension to a church. Then there is the medium-sized practice with 16 jobs on its books, almost all of which are in the public sector. Roughly 40 per cent. of those jobs are for individuals, or for first time clients. Then there is the large practice with 60 staff and 100 live projects, largely in education, the arts and leisure. It is a grave mistake

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to assume at present that the majority of architects work for large clients and in property development. That is simply not the case.

Those facts are not necessarily familiar even to Ministers. I believe that full account should be taken of those facts when deciding who the members of the board will be. The public sector remains important. That is in part central government, local government, hospital trusts, trusts in the field of education and in universities and their extensions. There has been a large building programme in that area. That large public sector should be represented in the appropriate way on the board.

I refer to housing associations. Although increasingly obliged for financial reasons to design and build, they now provide the great bulk of public sector housing. It is an important group of institutions which might be represented, if not formally, by individuals serving on the board.

There is the large number of quite small, once in a lifetime, domestic clients. The Government will have to consider how best they should be represented. It might be by someone involved in the consumer movement--either the National Consumer Council or the Consumers' Association. It could be someone working closely with the Citizens Advice Bureaux which are called upon from time to time to advise potential clients on how they may go about finding an architect. It may be someone from a women's institute. It will be for the Government to decide. I merely ask the Minister today to recognise that they should consider those kinds of bodies to find people who will constitute the lay membership of the board.

The legislation is not intended to protect Bovis, Wimpey or any of the major commercial property developers like Stewart Lipton, for example, a notable name and a company which has done excellent work. They all know where to find the right architect and how to obtain redress of a grievance, usually through the law, if a problem occurs. They can look after themselves and chop and change in their choice of architect. However, the ordinary man or woman, the once-in-a-lifetime client, is not in that position. I am sure that the Minister will be able to say that such people will be properly represented on the new board which will not be made up of people competing with the architects' profession. If he can say that, then I and the profession will be well content. I beg to move.


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