|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
I am concerned that a phrase as wide as "competitive with architects" should find its way into legislation. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, does not intend that, but the phrase is so wide that it is difficult to know who would be allowed to serve on the new body. I am worried that yet again the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, has gone further than I would have expected. I understand that he does not want a large number of persons from other professions to be appointed to the body and that is a proper concern. However, if one or two should appear on the body as users of architectural services, it might not be such a bad thing.
The Earl of Caithness: I hope that my noble friend Lord Lucas will resist the amendment as another piece of protectionism by architects. As drafted, the Bill is right. The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, adduced a number of arguments for some good people who should be appointed to the board or who are worthy of consideration. Having listened carefully to him, I found no arguments why those who use the services of architects but who also compete with them--such as chartered building surveyors or chartered surveyors--should not be represented.
On an earlier amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, said that the professions had worked in harmony and should continue to do so. Having said that, it seems odd that the noble Lord should wish to exclude from the board those people with whom architects will work in the future.
Lord Howie of Troon: There might be an answer to that proposition or a reason for it. Thirty years ago, when I was active in consulting engineering, I recall that such building professionals as chartered surveyors and the like--estimable people in almost every way--attempted to usurp the work of architects. They did so largely by insinuating themselves in as project managers. Being somewhat feeble, the architects permitted them to do that. When I returned to consulting engineering after a period in another place (from which I was ejected by popular appeal), I discovered that the quantity surveyors were attempting in the same way to insinuate themselves into consulting engineering. The consulting engineers were able to repel them, at least for a while. There is more to chartered surveyors than meets the eye, there is nothing wimpish about them. They are a serious competitive body of people who must be carefully watched. That is possibly why we do not want too many of them on this body.
It all boils down to what one considers a profession, what it is for and how it ought to be disciplined and arranged. To some extent, the manner in which the profession is arranged and disciplined is a definition of the profession itself. I was excited that my noble friend Lord Williams put down an earlier amendment which proposed a majority of architects on the board. I was about to put down a similar amendment, but since he had done so I did not. Unfortunately, he withdrew his and left me stranded like a whale. No doubt I shall put it down again on Report, because it was right.
The essence of a profession is that it is disciplined, organised and arranged by its members. It is different from a business. I know that noble Lords opposite are obsessed with the idea of the market, with businesses and similar matters and can think of nothing else. I absolve them from even considering the matter. However, that is not the case with my noble friends. They should consider the professions and what they are like. I shall advise my noble friends on the Front Bench where to look for a description of the ethos of the profession which might help and guide them in their attitude to this part of the Bill. I revert to a point which I have mentioned before in this House, as the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, will remember. It is a well known book called: The Acquisitive Society, by R.H. Tawney, a well known socialist. That word has perhaps gone out of popular usage lately. In his book, R. H. Tawney included an interesting chapter in which he discusses the industrial society and describes the professions as the model he would like to see an industrial society take.
My noble friends on the Front Bench will be happy to note that not only does R.H. Tawney say that, but he suggests that the pattern of professional institutions such as the RIBA--although he does not mention it by name--and other professional institutions which I have mentioned was the kind of pattern that the trade union movement should have taken.
In parenthesis, if my party had listened to Tawney in those days and had converted the trade unions into the same shape as the professional institutions, the world would have been a much better place than it is today. If a profession is to remain a profession and not be transformed into something else, it must retain a substantial measure of self-government. The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, has gone a long way towards meeting the Government's views, much further than I like. If a profession is not self-governing, it ceases to be a profession. In so far as it ceases to be a profession, it loses its value to society.
Lord Lucas: The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, seems to envisage his committee overrun by mice or perhaps chartered surveyors. I assure him that it will not happen. Although his fears may be understandable, they are unfounded. The wording of the paragraph closely reflects the text of the department's position paper, which had the support of both the Architect's Registration Council of the United Kingdom and the Royal Institute of British Architects. The Government's aim remains the same: that the appointed members should represent a balance between consumers of architectural services and the general public. The Government will consider very carefully who those appointed members should be. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, that appointees should be independent men and women who wish to perform a public service and represent clients. I take his point too that there will be small, once in a lifetime clients who should be taken into account when the Government decide whom to appoint.
Having said that, there is no question of such a person or persons dominating the board. It is a matter of simple arithmetic. There will be seven elected architects and the remaining eight appointed members will be divided between those who represent the general public and those who represent the consumers, both big and small, of architectural services. Any appointees from the construction industry would be in a small minority.
Finally, I should remind the Committee that there will be consultation before any members are appointed. I assure the Committee that any responses that we receive will be considered very carefully. I hope that, in that very short reply, I have given the comfort that the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, requires.
Baroness Hamwee: Before the noble Lord responds to that reply, may I ask with whom the Government are consulting? If one is talking about consumer interests and general interests, it is quite hard to know who the consultees should be.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, referred to protectionism. There is no protectionism whatever intended in this amendment. However, he will, I hope, accept that within his profession he would not like architects to determine what is a suitable education for a chartered surveyor or indeed to decide who is properly qualified to enter the profession. I seek only to establish in this amendment that there will be no representatives on the new board who will see their task precisely as that--speaking for other professions competitive with architects and seeking to determine, as they might easily do, the conditions for entry and the form that architectural education should take. In that sense the amendment is not protectionist at all. I simply ask for architects to have done to them what they would want to do, no more and no less, to others.
The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, made a fair point, which is not apparent from the amendment, when he said that he did not see why there should not be two or three representatives--I want to come back to that word--of other professions on the board. I should prefer to say that I totally accept--it may not have been clear from the amendment, which is why I must reconsider the form of words used--that some who may serve on the board not as architects but as the so-called independent members may have other professional qualifications.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page