HC Deb 17 April 1931 vol 251 cc497-505

I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, at the end, to insert the words: The expression 'registered architect' means a person registered under this Act in respect of the business of designing structures and the supervision, in his capacity of designer, of the erection of structures. There seems to have been an oversight on the part both of the promoters of the Bill and of those who have helped to make it a better instrument than it was when it left this House after its Second Reading. In Clause 2 of the Bill, there are definitions of the expressions "the Council," "registered person," and "prescribed," and we have also in the Clause a definition of the register. But, singularly enough, the most important definition of all, and one which is absolutely necessary if this Registration Bill is to be complete, is the definition of an architect. My colleagues and myself have given considerable thought to the definition of this term, and, as a result, we propose that which is contained in this Amendment.

A definition is necessary because the architect, in the nature of things, has not only a province of his own, but has frequently to encroach upon the provinces of other kindred interests. I need only refer to the builders, the surveyors, the engineers and so on. And, if we are going to give statutory recognition to a profession, as we hope we shall by this Bill, we ought to make quite clear what the profession is, and exactly what its duties are supposed to be. I have a little book here, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects, which is very handsomely done. It is perfectly simple, and is written for simple people like myself, and I congratulate its author, because, as an architect ought to do, he gives a delightful quotation from Shakespeare as a prelude: … When we mean to build, We first survey the plot, then draw the model; And when we see the figure of the house, Then must we rate the cost of the erection. I thought at first that the word "rate" was a misprint for "raise," but I am assured that it is not a misprint.

Which if we find outweighs ability, What do we then, but draw anew the model In fewer offices. That is taken from King Henry IV, Part II, Act I, Scene III. It is the prelude to an excellent little book, from which I desire to read one or two quotations, because it deals with the question of the definition of an architect and his work. On page 7 of this booklet, it is stated of the architect: He is an artist, but is also a man of science and of business, who is concerned with facts and figures, with building law contracts, prices and building materials, and a hundred and one practical problems which require practical solution. The point that I want to make is one which I have already made, namely, that the architect cannot carry on his work in vacuo; he does it on the territories of other professions; so that it is as well for us to know exactly what the definition of an architect is. On page 10 of the booklet there is, I regret to say, a phrase which I myself would have found it difficult to use. Someone has said that you never find a phrase like "an honest lawyer"; but on page 10 I find these words: The honest architect will be able to help the client to decide which factor shall give way. I have assumed, in the whole of my negotiations and my work on this Bill, that there could not be such a thing as a dishonest architect. On page 13, we find a definition of what an architect is: The presence of an architect is to superintend the process of construction, and to secure the proper observance of the building contract is essentially in the interests of the building public. That is very much the same as we have included in this Amendment, and I do not think it could be very much improved upon, except that we have economised more in adjectives.

There is one other aspect of this matter on which I should like to give another quotation from this booklet. Hon. Members may not be aware that, when bills of quantities in connection with the building of houses or other structures are drawn up, it is necessary, and, indeed, it is stated here that it is customary, for the architect to advise the client on the choice of a quantity surveyor; and it is also stated that the surveyor's fees are customarily added as a percentage to the bill of each separate trade and paid as part of the payment to the builder. That, in a sense, seems to amount to the architect appointing his own policeman, which is an excellent way of ensuring that things shall work out according to plan.

There is another reason why it is urgently necessary to know exactly what an architect is, and what are the statutory rights that we to-day, I hope, are going to give him. I have here the report of the Departmental Committee appointed by the Board of Trade in 1930 in connection with the registration of accountants. There is a paragraph in it which is very interesting in view of my claim that we should have a definition of "architect." I think it will be agreed that the accountants also have an excellent case for being registered. It will prevent abuse, and it will prevent the charlatan from exploiting more or less ignorant people. Paragraph 32 states: One of the practical difficulties in the way of establishing a register accompanied by restriction of practice is to define accountancy. A number of definitions have been placed before the committee, none Of which satisfactorily covers the whole field. Leading members of the profession assert that they are unable to draw up a definition which would include all the various functions of an accountant, without embracing work which is equally within the scope of other professions. Accountancy ranges over the whole field of business affairs, and the functions of an accountant extend from what is little more than book-keeping to advising on financial reconstruction schemes and the flotation, reconstruction or liquidation of large industrial and other undertakings. Solicitors and bankers, as well as accountants, undertake the preparation of trust accounts and Income Tax returns. That is the practical difficulty that they found with regard to it. Here we have the architect, who traverses the territories of the builders, the engineers, and the surveyors, and it is as well for us to know exactly what is the area within which we are going to give him these statutory rights. Every other expression in the Bill is defined, but the most important of all is not defined.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Lieut.-Colonel MOORE

This point, in regard to the definition of the word "architect," was fully discussed in Committee, and the difficulties were very clearly realised as to how best to define it. The original wording in the Bill was "bona fide architect." It was realised that that might be open to misinterpretation, and it was then agreed to leave out the words "bona fide" and simply have the word "architect." We all felt, and the House will probably feel, that the simplicity of the word "architect" is possibly the easiest means of getting out of the difficulty. Other professions which have sought registration have found exactly the same difficulty. The dental profession cast round for a form of words to qualify the word "dentist" and finally they evolved one which, to my mind, does not convey very much—the words "whose principal mode of livelihood"—is, I suppose, drawing teeth. We do not believe that a similar insertion would make in any way clearer what the word "architect" means. This Amendment means that the architectural profession is encroaching on other professions of equal dignity and standing, such as structural engineering and civil engineering. All these great bodies are concerned with the business of designing structures and the supervision of those structures. We do not want to interfere with their duties, and I am sure they will feel in exactly the same way towards the architectural profession. It would be very unfair, unwise, and unjust to take upon ourselves these responsibilities and offend other great professions which are on the borderline of the architectural profession, and I ask the House to reject the Amendment.




The hon. Member seconded the Amendment.


The hon. Member for Wallsall (Mr. McShane) asked me earlier in the Debate to give some indication of the Amendments which I propose to take. I understand that this Bill was very fully discussed in Committee upstairs, and it seems to me that it would not be in accordance with the proper procedure of this House, particularly upon Bills of this kind, for a Debate which was very full in Committee to be repeated on the Report stage. That does not seem to be the reason for which the Report stage exists, and therefore I shall have

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 35; Noes, 107.

Division No. 212.] AYES. [11.22 a.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Batey, Joseph Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Lees, J. Taylor, R. A. ([...]ncoln)
Cove, William G. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Daggar, George McElwee, A. Wellock, Wilfred
Freeman, Peter Quibell, D. J. K. Westwood, Joseph
Gossling, A. G. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Gould, F. Romeril, H. G. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hardie, George D. Rosbotham, D. S. T Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Rowson, Guy
Jenkins, Sir William Sandham, E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Sawyer, G. F. Mr. McShane and Mr. March.
Kinley, J. Simmons, C. J.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Gower, Sir Robert Pole, Major D. G.
Arnott, John Gray, Milner Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Aske, Sir Robert Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Rathbone, Eleanor
Beaumont, M. W. Grundy, Thomas W. Remer, John R.
Benson, G. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Blindell, James Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Harris, Percy A. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Hayes, John Henry Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Bracken, B. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Brothers, M. Herriotts, J. Sherwood, G. H.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Shield, George William
Buchan, John Hoffman, P. C. Shillaker, J. F.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hurd, Percy A. Simms, Major-General J.
Butler, R. A. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) John, William (Rhondda, West) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Campbell, E. T. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Smithers, Waldron
Charleton, H. C. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Chater, Daniel Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Church, Major A. G. Knight, Holford Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Law, Albert (Bolton) Thurtle, Ernest
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Lawson, John James Tinker, John Joseph
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Leach, W. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Dallas, George MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Denman, Hon. R. D. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wells, Sydney R.
Ede, James Chuter Mansfield, W. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Eden, Captain Anthony Mathers, George Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Edmunds, J. E. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Morris, Rhys Hopkins Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Muff, G. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Foot, Isaac Muggeridge, H. T. Womersley, W. J.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Ganzoni, Sir John Paling, Wilfrid
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Palmer, E. T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Gibbins, Joseph Perry, S. F. Colonel Moore and Mr. Shakespeare.
Glassey, A. E. Peters, Dr. Sidney John

to refuse to accept a great many of the Amendments. I understand that the promoters of the Bill are ready to accept a considerable number of the Amendments which have been put down in the name of the hon. Member for Walsall and his friends. I propose to take the Amendment at the bottom of page 1201—in Clause 7, page 4, line 14, after the word "If," to insert the words: the council requires the services of an examination board to test by examination the possession of qualifications prescribed by the council for admission to the Register then the council shall provide for the holding by the examination board (constituted in accordance with the Second Schedule to this Act) of such examinations at least once in each year and at such times and places as the examination board may with the sanction of the council determine. The council shall recognise as examinations under this section examinations the passing of which is, or may be, recognised for exemption from the final examinations of the incorporated architectural electoral bodies enumerated in Section one of the First Schedule to this Act, and may recognise as examinations under this Section examinations for the time being organised and held at any school of architecture.

Provided always that recognition of examinations, degrees, and diplomas under this Section and Sub-section (b) of Section five of this Act may be withdrawn, but shall not be withdrawn without the approval of the Privy Council. —but I do not propose to take very many of the other Amendments. These Amendments were not upon the Paper until this morning, and it did not give me a very great opportunity of thoroughly going through them. I understand that the Amendment at the bottom of page 1201 does not altogether make very good sense as it stands upon. the Paper. If the hon. Member will draft it a bit better, I shall be more likely to accept it. It is the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Winterton).


May I at the outset express my regret that owing to the Recess it was impossible for some of us to put in the Amendments earlier; that accounts for the fact that they were only handed in last night. With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I should like to call your attention to Clause 5. As Clause 5 stands in the Bill, taken in conjunction with Clause 6, there is such an obvious contradiction that it would be a reflection upon the intelligence of this House if the Clause were to be allowed to pass in its present form. Clause 5 states, in essence, that the Admission Committee shall allow certain names to be placed upon the Register.


We cannot discuss Clause 5 now, and I understand that the Clause was discussed at great length in Committee.


I am not in any sense trying to get past your Ruling. I am merely pointing out that it was almost the unanimous opinion of the Committee that the Bill had been left in such an unsatisfactory state that certain alterations would have to be made with regard to certain Clauses in order to make them tally. Clause 5 does not tally with Clause 6, and I am anxious that it should do so. It, will be noticed that Clause 6 says: The decisions of the Admission Committee shall be subject to confirmation by the council. Clause 5 states that, if the Admission Committee decide that a man shall be registered, the Council shall be compelled to accept him. These two Clauses are at such variance that it would not be desirable that the Bill should leave the House of Commons in its present state.


The hon. Member has an Amendment down to Clause 6 which I understand the promoters of the Bill are willing to accept. With regard to Clause 7 and the Amendment to which I have referred standing in the name of the hon. Member for Loughborough, upon which, I think, it is reasonable to have a discussion, if the hon. Member would move to leave out the Clause, it would be the best way out of the difficulty. The hon. Member had better move to leave out all the words after the word "If." We could then have a discussion on the Question "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


On a point of Order. Are we going now from Clause 2, on which the last Division was taken, to Clause 5?


We are discussing at the moment the Amendments that I am going to allow. We are not discussing any single Amendment. I was only suggesting to the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Winterton) that, as the Amendment which stands in his name does not read, it will be more suitable for him to move to leave out all the words after the word "If."


I am prepared to take the course which you suggest, but I want to suggest to you and to the House that a good many of the Amendments which you have said you do not think you will ask the House to consider are purely drafting Amendments which have been made necessary, not only in the judgment of the critics but of its promoters, because of certain contradictions which have come into the Bill owing to its very complicated nature and the difficulties which met the Standing Committee when they were dealing with it. Therefore, with all respect, I suggest that, although the list of Amendments may look rather comprehensive and it may be assumed that they will take a great deal of Parliamentary time, my hon. and gallant Friend who is in charge of the Bill will probably to able to accept all of them.


I think the hon. Member will find that when we come to the Amendments I shall allow the Amendments of which he has spoken, certainly those which the promoters will accept.