§ Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
Before dealing with the merits and provisions of this Bill, I should like to give a very slight indication or outline of its history during the past few years. It was introduced in 1927 first in this House, and secured a Second Reading, subject to the proviso that it be sent to a Select Committee. The report of that 1260 Select Committee, which sat for 14 working days and took evidence from 20 different organisations, was published, but, as will be seen from the recommendations, it was not sufficiently strong to enable the House to proceed with the Bill on that occasion. There were certain reasons for the report that was made, which I will explain later. The report said this:In view of the fact, that the Clauses of the Bill had been amended by the Committee in the light of the evidence submitted, and that the final vote of five to four not to report the Bill to the House does not represent the view of the Committee of 11 Members as a whole, your Committee hope that an early opportunity will be given to the House next Session of considering a Bill framed on the lines of this Bill as amended.1261 Although the result was somewhat unfortunate in that the Bill was not reported to the House, the feelings of the members of the Committee were that, as amended, it should be given a further opportunity of being considered. The advice tendered by the Select Committee was accepted, and the next year the Bill was again introduced in an amended form. Unfortunately, owing to certain advantages being taken by hon. Members not interested in its progress, it was counted out. It was then taken to the House of Lords, introduced by Lord Crawford and Balcarres, and passed through all its stages in that House, almost without criticism, and certainly without amendment. It came down to this House, but, unfortunately, the Dissolution came, and it was unable to be proceeded with. I feel, therefore, in advancing the cause of this Bill again in this House, that I may be sure of knowing that it will be given a sympathy and an understanding that will guarantee its going upstairs to Committee, I hope, without a Division; but if there is any opposition to the Bill left—and I feel that there cannot be any of substance—I am authorised, on behalf of the promoters, to say that if the Bill is sent to Cornmittee, after having received a Second Reading, we shall be prepared to meet any reasonable suggestions which will make the Bill a better, more efficient, or more effective weapon to secure the object which we have in view. There is no desire in any way to be obstructive, or not to recognise that everyone has rights and that every kindred society has its views; and we would be prepared fully and freely to extend our minds to take in whatever further propositions are likely to be made.
The promoters of the Bill are the Royal Institute of British Architects. Most people in the House and outside recognise the Institute as occupying a unique position in our public life. Out of 46 architectural associations in the British Empire, 44 are affiliated to the Institute, which shows the imperial connection which the association has established throughout its long period of existence. It was given its first Charter by William IV, and the Charter was continued by Queen Victoria, King Edward and our present King. It was charged with the 1262 duty of supervising training and looking after architects generally throughout the Empire. The Institute, therefore, is an association not merely national but imperial. The membership numbers 8,000, which is far and above other associations which would desire the amenities which this Bill seeks to bring about.
I would like to make my arguments under two or three headings, and to speak first about the profession itself. I suppose that I do not exaggerate when I say that practically everyone in the country owes something of comfort and beauty in life to the profession. There is nothing that touches our lives quite so closely as the work of architects. I imagine that to those great men who have practised the profession in the past we owe a debt which we can never repay. You have only to stand on Westminster Bridge on an October afternoon and look across at this wonderful pile of buildings here to recognise almost in a spirit of awe the beauty of mind and design, of soul almost, that must have inspired those great men who followed the profession in the olden days. We have men to-day who are following them, and it is to these men that we wish to give the benefit of this Bill, by creating a standard of education and intelligence and of purpose which will keep the profession as the custodian of British architecture in future.
Along with all the beauty of design and spaciousness which we see around us in some of our buildings, along with the handsome streets that are springing up, along with the charming countryside and those wonderful old houses of two or three hundred years ago, along with all that which administers so much to our pleasure and comfort, there marches ugliness, squalor and intolerable poverty-stricken conditions, especially in our slums, our mining villages and our industrial towns. There is nothing more pathetic and shameful than to go into the slum streets of some of our big towns and see how squalid the lives of some of our people can be. It is a constant source of shame to see how uncomplainingly and courageously they bear their lot. It is for these people that I would like to speak to-day. They deserve something from us which we alone can give them, and it is the duty of this 1263 House through its members to give such support to this Bill as will assure that such direct contracts will be prevented. You can go into a large town where out of one of the most slumlike areas, springs up a noble structure, the dome of a cathedral, full of great beauty, full of most wonderful design that touches the chords of the heart and makes even the most hardened feel a little bit better. Then you go out of the Cathedral and see around nothing but poverty and squalor. That is one of the things which we mean to attack through this Bill.
In Clause 3 of the Bill we propose to set up a register of architects, and in Clause 5 we provide for the admission to this register of all persons practising as bonâ fide architects, and those who are under instruction or engaged as architectural assistants. We propose to allow these people, that is, the architects who are not affiliated to any architectural association, to come on to this register of architects, and we propose to allow the architectural assistants and all those who are in course of being qualified, to come on to the register without examination. We further give them five years in which to apply for admission to the register. In Clause 5 also we set up an admission committee. That consists of members of various important organisations which have a direct and mostly an indirect, association with the profession. We have made the committee on as broad a basis as it was humanly possible to conceive. The committee naturally will have a certain responsibility placed upon it, and their duty will be to confine the register to people who will satisfy the necessary demands.
Having taken in all those who do not belong at present to any architectural association, we then say that we must set up an architects examination board in order to provide that those who desire at a later date to join the association, must have an examination. The examination board will consist of men of wide knowledge and experience who have a very close association with the business and training of architects. Clause 7 sets up a discipline committee, which will, when necessary, remove names from the register and deal with the complaints of such as are aggrieved. On that committee repre- 1264 sentatives of the Law Society and the Ministry of Health will find a place. No one whose name is taken off the register need feel any doubt that there is any danger of his being treated unjustly. There is a dispensation in the Bill which will allow of an appeal to a court of law. In promoting this Bill we feel that we are not asking for anything unjust, that we are not asking for anything unreasonable. We want to apply the same reasonable restrictions to the profession of architects as are applied in the case of doctors and lawyers and other members of the learned professions. We want to ensure that a man is not registered as an architect without due qualification to give adequate and useful services to the public who employ him. We want to ensure that while those who are responsible for the life and the health of the public are protected, as is the case with doctors and lawyers, those members of the architectural profession on whose skill and sense of design and of beauty three-quarters of our people depend for their daily comforts and amenities, shall also be safeguarded. Surely that is not too much to ask.
We feel that explanation is needed upon one point which has been advanced against this proposal on other occasions. It has been stated in opposition that a boy of poor parents would be precluded from entering the profession. Nothing could be further from the truth. The average yearly applicants for the probationary examination of the Royal Institute of British architects number 115. About 60 of them come from elementary schools, and about 55 out of those 60 on the average are from council elementary schools. That shows that it is not a closed profession, and that from every section of the community it draws its members. But, further than that, the Royal Institute of British Architects provides bursaries and scholarships for the purpose of ensuring that boys and girls from poorer homes may have the same opportunity of getting to the top of the profession, as well as getting into the profession, as have members of other sections of the community. They lay down only that there shall be determination and ability; there is no other bar. I trust, therefore, that some of my friends opposite who have had feelings of antagonism against the proposal on these 1265 grounds will no longer have any doubt on this point.
One thing I wish to make clear. We want to do away with the present possibility of an undertaker or candlestick-maker calling himself an architect. We want to ensure that the public shall no longer be deluded, but that they shall be fully protected. At present there is a ridiculous comedy of deception going on when people, without qualifications or any architectural knowledge or experience, may set themselves up and call themselves architects, and take money that should be spent with architects who know their job and have qualifications to carry out what is required. One other point, with regard to the general public. We want to protect them and ensure that they shall get a square deal; that when they go to a man calling himself a registered architect they shall know what to expect. We want to set up a standard for the architect so that when the public buy his services they will know what they are to get and will pay only for what they get. Unless we can get this Bill through and secure that every man in the profession satisfies the educational demands of his profession, it will not be possible to get a square deal.
With regard to slums, many of our people have had their whole outlook, moral, mental and spiritual, embittered by the poor, sordid, squalid houses in which they have had to live. That is not the fault of an individual so much as of the period in which we live. But if we set up a standard of architecture as high as we can, we desire to see that everyone who follows the profession in the future shall subscribe to that standard, and if we can succeed in doing this we shall go a step forward on the road to the goal at which we are aiming. We want to ensure that we shall create a community of expert enthusiasts who can really bring comfort and graciousness even to a two-roomed house. We want to develop the profession into a community of practical idealists who can take control of the highways and byways, of the public streets, the countryside and our villages, and turn them into places spacious and utilitarian for the people. I believe that that can be done, and I would say, let us keep away the quack jerry-builders who call themselves architects. 1266 I do not think that we owe posterity anything, but we owe to ourselves a lot. In this century we have seen more achievement, more of heroism, than has been witnessed for the last 2,000 years. Are we merely to hand this down as history, or can we hand down to posterity something vital, something virile, something more informing of our history, something alive that will let posterity know of what the 19th and the 20th century consisted and the ideals that we created on which they may judge us? If we can do anything to make posterity better acquainted with what we have achieved in this century, then we ought to do it. To sum up, we ask for nothing unfair. We have met every legitimate objection, we have satisfied every legitimate interest. We have shown by Clause 5 that we are prepared to bring in all those at present attached to outside architectural organisation, learners and students of architecture. We have to ensure that the term "registered architect" will have a definite value and that the public will know what they are paying for; and furthermore, we have taken precaution, in the Schedules, of seeing that those people who have practised architecture and are in touch with art, and the profession shall be brought in to give us the benefit of their experience, and ensure that this committee to be set up will be carried on to the general satisfaction of all future members of the architectural profession. For the sake of future members of the profession, for whom we would like to make it a safe, secure and dignified profession; for the sake of our people, whose comfort and interests we wish to protect; and for the sake of that posterity to whom we would like to bequeath a true and faithful record of the spiritual, moral and material outlook of the 20th century, I ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ Mr. TILLETT
I have the greatest pleasure in seconding the Motion. I have spent all my active life in organising workers into amalgamations and federations, local and national, and I know of no profession which calls for national organisation more than that of the architect. He has held Aladdin's lamp aloft through all the centuries, but professionally he is disorganised and demoralised because of the lack of communication between the various sections of his profession. I have made inquiries and have 1267 satisfied myself that every legitimate claim will be met by the sponsors of this Bill; and I feel that everyone associated with our local bodies will be able to take their rightful share in helping to remodel the houses in which we are rehousing our people. Though at the beginning the machinery may work irregularly and unsuspected difficulties may crop up, these can be handled 'with firmness and wisdom by a disciplined executive.
I wish to see this body of professional men organised. We live in the days of organisation and rationalisation, and the profession that is not organised stands to lose a great deal by its detachment. The architect impinges on the intimate relationships of domestic life. His profession is concerned with the housing of our people and with the erection of our factories and mills. As things are, however, our local authorities are not protected. Even that wonderful scheme of rehousing which has come from the Ministry of Health is not protected as it might be. When one seeks the aid of a doctor one wants to secure the most efficient and the most dependable doctor, and those who have made a study of the present conditions in architecture will agree that there is a need to reorganise this profession on a national basis of dignity and authority and responsibility. At the moment the profession of the architect has no great national, responsibility, and there are no means of exercising disciplinary force from either within or without the profession. One can conceive a national executive being taken into consultation by the Minister of Health and by the great bodies which desire to reorganise housing and re-shape our towns so as to give us buildings of noble proportions and utility; and equally one can imagine the difficulties that are in the way so long as the present lack of discipline exists. In the rehousing schemes of Holland and the creation of garden cities there the architects of Holland, under the discipline of their association, have lent the State important aid. Our political and trade union organisations found, when visiting Holland. that when the architect came in he was able to improve upon every suggestion that had been made, and designed houses for the workers of Holland such as placed them in the most favoured position in 1268 Europe. I want to see some such organisation in this country.
There ought to be no class bias. If I felt that the ordinary worker had not as much opportunity to contribute with his brains and skill and experience to this great profession I would be the last to support this Measure. I do not wish to impute motives, but I look upon an architect who does not desire to join his national trade union as I look upon the workman who likes to enjoy all the benefits of organisation without making any contribution towards it. I enjoyed the beautiful pictures which the mover of the Motion created in our imaginations, and I feel that there is a spirit of idealism as well as of utility behind this Measure. There is idealism in the work of the architect; we see it expressed in our modern factories, our religious buildings and in our garden cities and if we can create an authoritative body in architecture on a national basis we shall do a great. deal towards abolishing jerry building and the Ministry of Health would be able to work miracles in the way of securing at least a mean level of scientific and sanitary construction in our homes.
I do not believe the last word will ever he said in architecture. I believe that beauty can be added to beauty and glory in outline and nobility of structure added to glory in outline and nobility of structure. Here is a chance, the first chance which I ever remember being offered to this House, to call together the brains, the skill, the craftsmanship and the art of a very important body of professional men; and those of us who love our country and who, whatever our religion may be, know and love our cathedrals, must at least see in those glorious structures a conception of what may be possible if the nation as a whole sets to work to create beautiful homes for our people. I want to see the time when our slums will be cleared away. I believe in my soul that the architects of this country have the power to dominate direct control, and achieve the reorganisation of our housing system in such a way that it would be worth while handing down to posterity as a lesson and an example.
I rise to support the Second Reading of this Measure, which applies, if not actually, at least potentially, to Northern Ireland. It has 1269 the whole-hearted support of the incorporated architects of Northern Ireland. There is no doubt that the introduction of a system of registration for architects will have a beneficial effect both morally and materially upon the profession, and, what is more important still, is that it will benefit the publis and the community generally. The architects of this country ought. to have facilities for conducting examinations and exercising disciplinary powers like the Law Society, the Dental Board and the General Medical Council. There is no doubt that before long the accountants of this country will come along and demand registration.
I am interested in two of the professions which I have mentioned, namely, the medical profession and the dental profession. Ten years ago the dental profession was in a chaotic condition. Hon. Members will recollect that at one time we saw specious and vulgar advertisements and a degrading system of canvassing in connection with dentistry. In that profession at that time a vast horde of people wholly unqualified were trading upon the credulity of the public. All that has been remedied by the passing of the Dentists Act, which was introduced in 1921. That Act gave to the dentists of the country the standard of a profession, and it regulated the practice of dentistry. The result has been that all the former abuses which existed in that profession has been swept away, and the moral and prestige of the dental profession have been immensely improved. The dentists are rapidly raising themselves to the status of a learned profession, and they are very keen to drive out those who are unworthy or unqualified.
The advantages of registration are apparent, and I fail to understand any of the objections which have been raised to it, seeing that it raises the tone and the moral of the profession and places it in an authoritative position for examining candidates for the profession of architecture. Any person may be his own architect. The builder or contractor may be his own architect if he is not prepared to employ a registered architect, and that is a matter for himself. The Bill will not exclude members of the architectural profession who have gone through a thorough course of training, and had been certified by the universities 1270 or granted diplomas by the Institute or the Royal College. The public have a right to know when seeking an architect, that those who use the term "registered architect" have the necessary qualifications for the due discharge of the onerous duties of an architect, and that is what is provided for in this Bill. After the inclusion of those architects who are at the present time fully qualified, there will come a time when the profession will carefully guard the register so that all who are admitted to it will have passed through a proper course of training.
Meanwhile there will be a generous inclusion of all those who are shaping to become architects. That provision ought to remove one of the objections which many people have urged against the establishment of a register of architects as bringing about undue hardships on people who, not foreseeing exactly what was coming, have been debarred from proceeding to the profession which they desire to take up. I hope that eventually the architects will have a similar body to the Law Society, the General Medical Council, or the Dental Board, which will enable them to supervise the education of the rising architect, and will be entitled to examine and grant diplomas to students who are worthy of it and will have disciplinary power to disbar or strike off the register members of the profession who have been guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect, and who have lowered the credit or prestige of this noble profession. Disciplinary powers are important, but they will not be exercised until the profession has reached a stable position—
§ [Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and, 40 Members being present—
I think I have said all that I wanted to say on this matter. I hope that it will not be regarded as in any sense a party matter, but that Members in all quarters of the House will concur in cordially approving of the merits of the important services which the architect's profession renders at the present time, when town planning, the preservation of the amenities of the countryside, the abolition of ribbon development, and so forth, are burning questions, and that it will be agreed that this Measure will be a very useful one. 1271 I conclude by asking the House to give it a sympathetic reception and to accord it a Second Reading.
§ 2 p.m.
§ Mr. MILLS
The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore) drew a very moving picture of the progressive tendencies of the architectural profession, and its ideals with regard to the rebuilding of England; and my hon. Friend the Member for North Salford (Mr. Tillett), who, I believe, has spent more years in the organisation of the working class than I have been on this earth, seconded with such moving eloquence that I really hesitated as to whether I should in any way oppose this Bill. We, however, are sent here as representatives of our constituencies, and, when views are put before us by our constituents, it is our duty to bring them before this House. In voicing the opposition to this Bill, I will not traverse what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for North Salford with regard to the trade union aspect of the Bill, but I am certain that he, who over a lifetime has been making efforts to bring together the diversified elements, made up of something like 150 trade unions, which have ultimately become the great and powerful Transport Workers' Federation, will agree with me that that amalgamation and that bringing together of the varying interests among the trade unionists of the transport world was not achieved by the methods of the bludgeon, but was achieved by methods of compromise, reason, and long-standing patience. Therefore, I want to put the point of view of those whom I represent in the Dartford Division of Kent, and to put their arguments against the Bill. One of them is that there are in the polytechnics of Woolwich, Gravesend and Dartford, and, in fact, in nearly all the polytechnics of Great Britain, young men working at their trade as plasterers, bricklayers, joiners—the ordinary routine work of the ordinary working-class lad—who are devoting their evenings and their Saturday afternoons to improving their capacity to serve; and they are dubious as to their prospects with regard to the interpretation of this Bill. Sub-section (1, d) of Clause 5 says that among the 1272 persons who will be entitled to be registered will be:
A member of my own family, a joiner foreman for a very big firm of contractors operating within a mile of this House, is using the whole of his spare time—he is a comparatively young man—for improving his technical knowledge, and I submit that the words of this Clause would definitely rule out any hope of this lad being able to step up to that higher profession to which his attainments entitle him.
- (i) who was for a period of five years immediately prior to and is at the passing of this Act a bona fide architectural assistant; or
- (ii) who subsequently to the passing of this Act has completed a period of five years (one year at least of which period shall have been prior to the passing or this Act) as a bona fide architectural assistant.
I agree wholeheartedly that, if we can establish once again the guild system in Britain to carry out the old ideas of the merchant companies—whose assets still linger although their ideals have long since been prostituted—if we could recreate that guild system, bringing together the architect and the builder, it would be a very great step forward; but in this connection there is before me evidence, covering a period of months, with regard to a kindred association which might be defined, in trade union terms, as what my hon. Friend the Member for North Salford would describe as a redundant trade union. He and I have often described these small local trade unions as redundant. and, therefore, retrograde in their effect on the movement. Nevertheless, they are there, and, surely, the best thing to do, if one wants to move forward, is to try to sweep them together in a big forward movement. The Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors did their best to see what accommodation could be given them, and how far they could march together in this common progressive step. On the 10th March, the 10th April, the 17thApril, the 9th July, the 30th July, the 31st July, and again on the 17th October, efforts were made to endeavour to get a meeting called, so that the varying points of view could be brought together, and on the 15th April they received this communication: 1273You will, I am sure, be glad to hear that we had a very successful meeting of our Registration Committee, and that the Chairman is satisfied that there will be no difficulty in getting them to agree in principle to the formula suggested in your letter of the 13th March. They will probably be meeting again shortly to prepare a definite document, which I can send to you, and in the meantime we have asked Colonel Moore "—that is to say, the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs, who is in charge of this Bill—to do nothing in the way of pushing the Bill this Session.It finally ends on 30th October with this statement, refusing any attempt at a meeting after all these put-offs and evasions, thatThe Royal Institute of British Architects is under no obligation of any kind to your body … the registration committee do not propose to make any alteration in the form of the Bill.After all, these societies are existing and doing work and, if the House is to take any steps at all to improve the status and standard of one of the most important crafts of Great Britain, the craft of architecture, we should see, of all people, that the foundation is well and truly laid. The gentlemen who have circulated a statement in support of the Bill include one of the most distinguished back benches of the post-War Parliament, Major Harry Barnes. Over a period of years he has done a wonderful amount of work for architecture and, in his appeal to us to do what we can in regard to the Bill, he uses phrases that are very moving. With all respect to him and to the association that he represents, unless we can get. from the movers of the Bill the assurance that these small kindred societies, view them how you will, will have their rights safeguarded in the Measure as it goes forward, I shall have no other alternative than to oppose the Bill.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
I do not think it necessary at this stage to discuss the principles of the Bill. If ever a Bill has been subject to the scrutiny of Parliamentary procedure and debate, it is this Bill. Not. only has it been before a Select Committee, but it has been passed by the House of Lords, and it was only by a Parliamentary trick that it is not now on the Statute Book. I think the point made 1274 by the last speaker is a good one. I am assured by the promoters that they are very anxious during the Committee stage to consider all possible objections and grievances, because you do not want to get a Bill like this by compulsion, but by acquiescence. If the promoters had been as reasonable in meeting the legitimate demands of the very many kindred associations that may be affected, we should all have our Friday afternoons free as a half holiday. The great majority of Members on these benches with whom I have discussed it welcome the principle of the Bill. It is one that we can highly commend. It, is in accord with the tendency of modern social and economic life that bodies of men are trying to make themselves more efficient and more able to render service to the community and trying to raise their status, just as lawyers, doctors and dentists have been able to render great service to the community by binding themselves together and making themselves qualified. I do not think the House has the right to deny to the oldest and the most honourable profession the right to do the same thing so that the standard of efficiency can be increased. I represent a constituency where we have two types of a architecture. It has more buildings scheduled as ancient buildings than any other City in Great Britain except London. That 'is what architecture has done for us in the past. There are also splendid examples of new architecture, new housing estates and new pavilions going up in the parks. Side by side we have the old and the new. Far be it from me in any way to deny privileges to a body of men who are trying to raise their status in the general interests of the country.
§ Mr. MARCH
I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills), claim to say something on behalf of the constituents whom I represent. I have received a communication from a very large firm of architects and surveyors in my district asking me to oppose the Bill on the ground that the promoters have not given reasonable consideration to their institution. The Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors is the society to which the firm belongs and, in their communication, they infer that the promoters had not given them an opportunity of discussing with them what they would like to have in the Bill.
1275 They have been cut off fairly short with their communications and correspondence as my hon. Friend has said. As far as I know, the Royal Institute of British Architects has perhaps the largest organisation representing architects, and they claim that they are "it" and the other associations are not "it." This association says it is the second largest association of British architects and it is desirous of being communicated with and corresponded with and agreed with, if possible, with the other Association, and they ask that this Bill should be adjourned or opposed until the promoters come to the conclusion that it is right to give them a full opportunity of considering and discussing their views. I think that is very reasonable. We should never have got amalgamation of various organisations if we had not been tolerant with them, and this is a very intolerant way of going on and trying to get their ends.
The mover of the Bill said there is no closed door of this Association. Perhaps there is not at present, but if they got this Bill through it would not be long before there was. That is what these people are seriously considering. I do not know, so far as trade unionism is concerned, that they are not right in getting even an Act of Parliament behind them. When it comes to a question of getting the ordinary rank and file into an organisation, we have these people who want a close combination for themselves absolutely against us, and we shall not be very long before we see bow they will act. If the Government get on with their Trade Disputes Bill, we shall have the whole of the opposite side of the House absolutely against us, simply because we want to get the workmen in our organisation under the control and command of the rules and regulations of our societies. That is all that these people are asking to be allowed to do. I hope that there will be delay in pushing this Bill through, or, if the House happens to give it a Second Reading, that the promoters will be prepared when the Bill goes to Committee to accept Amendments to Clauses which will help to meet the views of the other people who are not inclined to agree to the Clauses at the moment. If such an intention is reported to the House to-day, there is a proba- 1276 bility that I may not go into the Opposition Lobby, but unless we get some reasonable consideration for these other associations who are desirous of being represented under the provisions of the Bill, I shall have to vote against the Bill.
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
I have been acquainted for a great many years with the movement which is incorporated in this Bill. It has been the desire of architects in general, a very large majority of them, that some such organisation should be set up as is proposed to be set up under this Bill. The hon. Member for South Poplar (Mr. March) referred to certain difficulties and negotiations between the Royal Institute of British Architects and another body or other bodies. It has been stated before, and it can be stated again, that it is the desire on the part of all the authorities concerned with architectural legislation to meet together and to come to an agreed solution. It is in Committee that all these things can he fought out and settled. I am able to assure the hon. Member opposite that as far as the Royal Institute of British Architects are concerned, they are ready to meet all reasonable objections with the utmost hospitality and willingness to satisfy all kinds of legitimate criticism.
The registration of architects has been a question under discussion for a great many years, and it takes a long time to bring these things to fruition. We have seen other professions, notably the dentists, brought under a registration organisation with the very best effect. The movement is one directly in accordance with the general tendency of social organisations and of legislation in the present day. The architects are in nowise different from the lawyers, medical doctors and so forth. With all these various professions developing in their different directions with so much activity, they stand in need of an organisation which in the past was quite unnecessary for them. I think that the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills), who is not now in his place, was from the tone of his remarks really in his heart of hearts in favour of this Measure. His criticisms were points of detail, but broadly speaking, I think that the general intention of the Measure met with his sympathy if not with his actual support. I need not extend my remarks any further ex- 1277 cept to say that as a rule the University representatives are not often—I will not say troubled—approached by their constituents to do this or that. Such is the satisfaction which we University Members give to all our constituents that they leave us comfortably alone. But on this occasion I have received an unusual number of requests that I should support this Bill, which I am now glad to do.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Short)
At this stage I might, in a few sentences, indicate the attitude of the Government towards this Bill. The House is fortunate in that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore), in a very persuasive speech, set out in very clear and concise language the main provisions of this Bill. I think that we all share his opinion respecting the many examples of miserable architecture and design which exist in various parts of the country and which are undoubtedly offensive to the eye and to any reasonable conception of art and beauty. I would point out that many of these lurid examples of architecture which were complained of were designed by those who called themselves architects who will if this Bill reaches the Statute Book still unhappily be able to follow their art. But be that as it may, the House is compelled to remember that the proposals embodied in this Bill and in its predecessors experienced a somewhat chequered career at the hands of the House and though there is no real hostile criticism this afternoon, we should be unwise if we failed to recognise that there is a divergence of opinion, not among lay people, but among the architects themselves. There is a large body of opinion, including the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors, the second largest association, I think, of architects, who are very much averse to the provisions of this Bill. I can only say, having regard to the statements of the promoters and the supporters of the Bill, that it will be well, if this Bill reaches the Committee, stage, that these facts shall not be ignored and that a real attempt shall be made to 1278 secure possible agreement in connection with these matters.
I am not going to discuss the merits or demerits of the provisions of the Bill. I think that they are all familiar to the House. In so far as the need for more adequate and proper education in architecture is concerned, we can all agree, and, as far as the Bill seeks to obtain a higher standard of education and provides for further and better provision in connection with education, once again, I say, we can find ourselves in agreement. On the other hand there is criticism from many that by virtue of a Measure of this kind we are apt to create a very close corporation, and many people in these days view that with great suspicion. We are entitled to regard the matter from a different point of view from the powers extended to the medical profession, to dentists or the legal profession, in this sense that here we are dealing with creative art. It would be unfortunate if art should be robbed of the greatest artists merely because they were not registered. Here, I am expressing my personal view. The attitude of the Government can be stated in a sentence. We shall leave it entirely to a free vote of the House. The House will have the satisfaction of knowing that the Government are not throwing their weight in one direction or the other, and that the monsters of the Front Bench do not seek to interfere with the freedom of hon. Members.
§ Mr. BROAD
One does not object to a body of professional men desiring, for their own interests, a properly constituted union or association, but I do not think it is the work of Parliament to give to such an organisation compulsory power to enrol people in its ranks. That should be left free to the voluntary work of those who can prove that their voluntary association is the right one. The purpose in view is not so much to raise the standard of architecture or of constructive art or to abolish jerry building, as to give a close co-operation and a very tight vested interest to these people, to enable them to maintain their profession for those of a certain class. That would be the effect in the long run of this particular Measure, and therefore I am opposed to it. An analogy has been drawn between the 1279 architectural profession and the professions of law and medicine. When it comes to a question of law, the poor layman is in 'a quandary, because owing to the complications introduced by lawyers who have designed and made the law he cannot judge the value of the lawyer's professional work. In the handling of property we know that even if one buys a small house and has to raise a mortgage, by the time the legal formalities have been gone through, anything up to 25 per cent. of the price paid for the property has to go to the lawyers and the law generally. On the other hand, if one buys a horse or certain goods a stamped agreement is all that is necessary. The lawyers are using their close corporation to inflict a fine on housing transactions and the property transactions of the people generally. It is one of the scandals of this nation the way in which the lawyers are bleeding the people, and no doubt other professions want to come into the same position.
§ Mr. BROAD
The hon. Member belongs to a party who was in power for four and a half years, but they did not seek to bring in a Transfer of Land Bill, because that party includes a great many lawyers who would take care that such a Bill did not pass. When it comes to a question of the medical profession, we have to exercise a sort of blind faith because we cannot see the work that they are doing and we cannot appraise the disturbing factors which may militate against their success. When it comes to architecture, the layman can judge. He can judge design from the point of view of art, he can judge design from the point of view of efficiency and the needs of his business or of his domestic concerns. I should be very sorry to see the nation in the position that was indicated by the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. Tillett), where the architects had control. I do not know what would happen to the housing of the people if the architects had control. We went through a period during 1919–20, under an Act of Parliament known as the Addison Act, during which the liability of the local authority was limited to a penny rate and the Government was responsible for the rest. As a consequence, 1280 in all the housing schemes that were laid down the architectural advisers of the Ministry had very great power and they made some very pretty designs. They designed a lot of beautiful little pictures of houses with recesses, abutments and angles, but in regard to most of these houses it cost more to put the roof on the house than the house was worth. The workers want houses to live in. They do not live on the roof. Wherever you go, under the Addison Act where the architects of the Ministry had the authority they were regardless of expense, of course they got their fees in proportion to the expenses, but when it came to the interior design of the houses a practical housewife would have designed a house more suited to the working classes of this country than these wonderful architects, with their enormous fees. That is one reason why I should be very sorry to see the housing of the people in the hands of an association such as is contemplated in this Bill.
The hon. Member for North Salford spoke about the disgrace of jerry-building. That has nothing to do with the architectural profession. The architect may design but it is the local authority, through its building surveyor, that has to see that jerry-building does not go on. There is no guarantee however much you pay your architect, however dignified his position may be, or however close his corporation, that jerry-building will not go on. In connection with the biggest buildings, the man who sees that the work is carried out is not the architect but the clerk of works, and if he is a competent man the clerk of works has usually risen from the ranks of building workers. In connection with many of our great buildings the architect may have been paid his fees and made a pretty picture from the outside, but we find time after time that when it comes to the construction of the building he has designed a mare's nest, and the foreman or the clerk of works has to get him out of his difficulty. In the past from the ranks of the building workers a large number of men have been able to rise to the position of architects and have been responsible for some of the finest work in this country, and for the very good reason that it is only the exceptional man who can rise from the ranks. 1281 If we adopt this kind of legislation the architects will do very well. People who have money to spend on their sons will pay heavy fees to article their sons to the architects, although they may be quite unsuited for it. They will, however, get through because they have been articled, but they may be any sort of dud when it comes to practical work, whereas the man who has risen from the ranks, the man who has been a wage-earner as an assistant in an architect's office, or who has been engaged on buildings; the young man of brains who has acquired practical knowledge, will be more fitted for the position of architect. By leaving the profession open to such men we shall be fishing from a very big sea. If you want to catch big fish it is no use fishing in a small pond, and if you have this kind of legislation for this profession you will be confining your fishing operations to a very small pond indeed.
There is something else. As a skilled craftsman myself I do not believe in the idea that once a labourer, always a labourer. If a keen young man is prepared to equip himself he should be able to rise in his profession. By this legislation you are saying that once a carpenter always a carpenter, once a bricklayer always a bricklayer, once a general foreman always a general foreman, once a clerk of works always a clerk of works; and that they can never become architects. It is much the same as what occurs in the legal profession. The smart and keenest clerk who has equipped his mind can never become a solicitor unless he has his articles of association from his principal. Many of the keenest minds in the minor branches of the legal profession have to be salaried employés, and can never become solicitors on their own account, because they have never been able to pay the fees. It will be so in this case, and I want to see the opportunity open to every man in the building profession to rise. Registration is to be limited to persons of certain organisations.Every person who at the passing of this Act is or has been in bona. fide practice as an architect;Every person—At the end of four years the bona fide architectural assistant will be cut right out, and only those who have been articled and paid the fees will be entitled to be registered. I am sure that architects will do very well out of this Bill. They will be able to draw very heavy fees. The Bill entirely precludes from any consideration some of those extremely capable men who sometimes have to put the architect right, namely, the clerk of works and the general foreman. I have known some of these men. They have been engaged on very big work in London, and their creative genius and ability have been known to those who have engaged them. It would be a great mistake from the national point of view, and from the point of view of the improvement of our architecture and our homes and the efficiency of buildings designed for commercial and industrial purposes, to say that these men shall not have the opportunity of rising in the profession, and that only those who have had an academic training and an experience in the limited scope of one particular architect's office shall be considered, to the exclusion of those clerks of works and general foremen who have had the advantage of acquiring a knowledge and a skill by working for one architect and another on all kinds of different buildings and coming into touch with different ideas whereas the articled pupil only gets the experience of one particular firm.
- (i) who was for a period of five years immediately prior to and is at the passing of this Act a bona fide architectural assistant; or
- (ii) who subsequently to the passing of this Act has completed a period of five years (one year at least of which period shall have been prior to the passing of this Act) as a bona fide architectural assistant."
It is, in my judgment, a mistake to have this piece of legislation. There is no need for it. If a, man can submit a design which meets with the approval of his customers, he should be entitled to undertake the work. From the point of view of the liberty of all men in all trades to rise in the profession without let or hindrance, I hope the House will reject this Bill and say to the architectural profession that if they desire an association to speak in their name, if they desire to raise the status of their calling, they should do exactly the same as the engineer and transport worker have to do. They should join their organisation and by their zeal, pride and interest in 1283 their calling should make it a success without coming to Parliament and asking for compulsory powers to exclude better men than themselves from the profession.