§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 2.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Bossom
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill was passed in another place without Amendment and without a division. The general public, when they hear the name of "architect," are of opinion that it indicates a person who has been trained in the subject of architecture, and they understand, when they are purchasing a house, for example, which is described as architect-designed, that it has been designed by such a person. It has been found by experience, however, that they do not recognise that the term "registered architect" is essential, and, therefore, this Bill has been promoted by the Registration Council in order, with the consent of this House and of another place, to have the name changed to "architect."
I will give the House a very brief history of the situation. For several years this matter was discussed, and in 1931 the Architects (Registration) Bill was passed, establishing the fact that those who desired to call themselves registered architects must have their names upon a register. For two years after that time, those who had been architects or had practised that profession were entitled to go on to the register without examination, but after that period those who desired to use the name "registered architect" had to pass a qualifying examination. The Bill, which became an Act in 1931, established the Registration Council, and also a Board of Architectural Education. That board consisted of 75 members, four nominated by Universities, seven by the Society of Teachers, 19 by schools of architecture, seven by societies of teachers, 11 by non-architectural bodies, five by architectural bodies, and 24 registered persons nominated by the Council itself.
The present Bill is not an attempt to establish a monopoly of the practice of 557 architecture for any body or any group of people. It permits anyone to design or to supervise any form of construction; it in no way interferes with them; but, two years beyond the time when this Measure is, as I hope it will be, put on the Statute Book, a person so acting will not be able to call himself or herself an architect without passing a qualifying examination. That is the point of the Bill. It is not an attempt in any way to add to the costs of the public in connection with architectural undertakings; it is not an endeavour in any way to destroy the livelihood of any people. Many people, as hon. Members know, who are employed by various local authorities carry out the supervision and control construction work. Municipal engineers, medical officers and surveyors do that, and this Bill in no way affects them, except that it says that, after two years beyond the time when this Bill has become an Act, if they have not become registered they cannot call themselves architects. They can call themselves medical officers, municipal engineers, surveyors, or anything of that sort, but they must not call themselves architects. In other words, they call themselves what they are, and I am sure they will not pretend to be otherwise.
The Bill is very widely supported. I have here a list of the bodies supporting it. The first is the Royal Institute of British Architects. Then there are the 67 provincial associations allied to the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Faculty of Architects and Surveyors, the Architectural Association (London), the Association of Architects and Surveyors and Technical Assistants, the representatives of the Council of the Unattached Architects, of which there are 3,000, and I would refer to the fact that the greatest number is that of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an honoured organisation in this country and one which has done service of the finest kind. But beyond these the Bill is actively supported by the crafts that enable buildings to be constructed. The National Federation of Building Trade Operatives, representing something like 900,000 members, the National Federation of the Building Trades Employers, the London Master Builders, the Auctioneers, the Civil Engineers and Structural Engineers, and Surveyors' Institute—all those institutions are in no way opposing the 558 Measure. If they thought it was trespassing on any of their provinces they would immediately oppose it. In fact practically 90 per cent. of the profession in this country are supporting the Bill and practically all of those who carry out the work designed by members of the profession are supporting the Bill.
The Bill is not an attempt to make architecture an exclusive profession. Take London as an example. A boy can go through an elementary school and can gain a junior county scholarship or go through the general schooling course, right on, through a technical school; or he can go, for example, to the Regent Street Polytechnic, and by paying two guineas a year for the evening course over a period of six years he can complete the course that is necessary to qualify for the examination which entitles him to registration. The Registration Council, under the powers given to it by the Act of 1931, requires annual dues of 6s. 8d., a half of the total of which was to have been put aside to help necessitous students. But it was agreed by the Privy Council in 1932 that the council should not spend all of this amount, but should set aside a part regularly and so accumulate a sum, which is now in the neighbourhood of £2,500, for the purpose of helping students over a wider area. The Royal Institute of British Architects alone has granted 31 scholarships.
At this time 12 art schools, technical colleges or universities have been able to frame their curriculum and develop an examination, which has enabled the Registration Council to give them full permission to grant full approval to those who pass the course. I have alluded to the Regent Street Polytechnic, which allows a student to attend an evening course for six years at two guineas a year. The student may be working during the day in a builder's or architect's office and earning his living, and there are a great many men who have done that. I could cite the cases if desired. As to what is felt generally about the standard of the examination, let me state that last year, 1936, 750 evening students presented themselves for the Royal Institute of British Architects examination alone, irrespective of other bodies that conduct such examinations.
Let me deal with registration in this country and other countries. I say quite 559 frankly that in this matter we are a long way behind. I have practised the profession in many lands, and I know whereof I speak. In five Dominions and Colonies registration is compulsory. In 41 out of 48 States of the United States it is compulsory. In a dozen countries of Europe it is compulsory. Certain criticisms have been made of the Bill by an organisation, and of which organisation I believe the hon. Member for Holborn (Sir R. Tasker) was the chairman, has circulated a pamphlet which many Members have received. The first item in that paragraph to which I would refer is a statement with which we all agree, that the word "architect" should be the one that is employed. Halfway down the page the pamphlet states that the Bill requires all architects to register. This is not the case; they are allowed to register if they wish to do so. Thy pamphlet uses the word "required." The truth is that they are allowed to register.
The pamphlet says that the Royal Institute of British Architects circulars state that similar or more drastic legislation prevails in the United States. That is absolutely right. There in very many States an architect cannot practise at all unless registered. Registration is insisted upon as a State regulation. A man cannot practise, no matter what he may have done, unless he is registered. He must show that he has the required qualities. On page 4 the pamphlet says that this is a compelling Measure. It is not a compulsory Measure; it is a permissive Measure, and no one is compelled to register unless he or she wishes to do so, but if the Bill becomes law no one will be entitled to call himself or herself an architect without registering. A man cannot call himself a Member of Parliament unless he has been elected. Why should a man call himself an architect unless he has had the qualifications necessary to make him an architect? On page 5 the pamphlet says that a man is compelled to pass an examination established by a certain body. Twelve, art schools, technical colleges and universities have already established a standard of examination which has proved satisfactory. That shows it is not compulsory to pass the examination of one other special body. Again, it states at the bottom of page 5: 560The so-called recognised architectural schools cost the students 60 guineas a year or even more in fees alone.That may be correct if they go there, but they do not have to go there. At the Regent Street Polytechnic, to which have already referred, the fees are £2 2s. a year, and the full course can be taken during the evenings, that is, for £12 12s. in six years. On page 9 it says:The Royal Institute of British Architects only represents a third of the architects' profession.If the Royal Institute of British Architects with its 6,750 registered members only represents a third, the 1,200 members of the protesting body which is suggesting that the standard of education is too high represents only about 6 per cent. of the profession. This body which is objecting to this Measure was founded in 1925. The Royal Institute of British Architects was originally started in 1834.
We are endeavouring to raise the level of our educational system everywhere, and not to lower it. Among the members of this organisation are very distinguished men indeed, personal friends of my own whom I admire tremendously, but if the standard of architectural educational requirements be lowered what is this body going to do about fees? They have not said a word about that. Do they propose that in the future they should send out men with a lower standard of education and charge the same fees as those which are how paid to men who have a very much higher standard of training? I do not believe the House is desirous of lowering the standard of education, yet this protesting body which asks for the rejection of the Bill wants to lower the standard of education but not to lower the fees.
A few weeks ago we had a Debate in which there was a unanimous opinion that we wanted to maintain the amenities of the country. Many of us have fought on this issue many times. I have here a quotation from "Punch" of 10th February last which sums up the situation.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present: House counted, and, 40 Members being present—
§ Mr. Bossom
Referring to the possible rejection of this Bill, "Punch" said:This means that speculative and conscienceless builders will remain free to erect 561 hideous, badly planned and (mercifully) impermanent houses under the marvellously seductive banner of 'architect-planned.'We have got to protect the word "architect" for the benefit of the general public. This Bill only attempts to carry forward that principle. It will not stop anyone from practising architecture but, if they do not trouble within two years to qualify before the Registration Council, they cannot call themselves architects. If they are not accepted when they make application before the Registration Council they have a right of appeal to an admissions body and, if they do not succeed there, they can appeal again to an independent and non-architectural tribunal, so that they can get absolute freedom in this matter. But if they have failed to register within two years from the' passing of this Bill they must pass an examination. I am authorised to say that the Registration Council are willing to accept any helpful Amendment. Considering that we spend £300,000,000 a year on building and architectural work, we are entitled to require those who call themselves architects to have a standard of education that is going to be a credit to our country.
§ 2.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Ammon
I beg to second the Motion.
Had it not been for his unfortunate illness the duty of seconding this Motion would have fallen to my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks), who would have brought to it an amount of technical knowledge, experience and understanding, to which I can lay no claim. It is worth while to observe that we have the theoretical side represented by the hon. Member opposite, and those who were engaged in the practical work as represented by my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich, who, as secretary of one of the big building trade industries, sees the value of having skilled and educated people carrying out work of such primary importance to the community at such a time.
I second the Motion with no pretence of any technical knowledge, but from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, who is very much concerned about such an important matter as that of architecture, and the great part that it must play in the culture and education of our people. It is no exaggeration to say that it has a great spiritual value upon the com- 562 munity. It is almost impossible to overestimate the spiritual value of a beautiful building upon the community. In view of the growing standard of education and the fact that, to a large extent, the structure of the nation is being rebuilt, it is of increasing importance that those who are entrusted with the planning and elevation of our buildings should be equipped in every possible way, both educationally and by skilled training, to give of their very best. It is for that main reason that I support the Bill. One has only to look around to see the extraordinary contrasts with regard to architecture in these days. One of the most wonderful sights to be seen is to stand on Westminster Bridge at dusk and observe the effect of some of the new architecture along the Embankment. You get a tremendous contrast if you go into the country and see how the beautiful landscape has been defiled by ill-planned and badly constructed buildings, as a result of which, in a few years, slums will be spread throughout the length and breadth of the land.
Slums are not only ugly and harmful from the point of view of the neighbourhoods in which they are situated, but they have a bad moral effect upon the people who are compelled to dwell amid such surroundings. Unless something is done on the lines of the Bill now before the House, this sort of thing is likely to be perpetuated. One of the objections to the Bill has been that, to a certain extent, it is said to perpetuate something like class-distinction. If there is anything that would be likely to attract my attention and to arouse my opposition to a Bill it would be that fact. Therefore, I made a close inquiry as to whether such a position could be maintained in respect of this Bill. It has been suggested by some people that it is expressed in the educational examination. That is absurd. The standard is simply that of matriculation or the general schools' certificate. It is almost impossible nowadays for anybody leaving school to obtain any position other than that of a general labourer, or even that, without the school-leaving certificate. That is the standard of education that is laid down in this Bill.
There is also the question of whether or not those who follow the profession should be drawn from one class. When this subject was under discussion in this House in 1931 the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs 563 (Lieut.-Colonel Moore) gave some figures relating to those who took the R.I.B.A. Examination, and said that there were 115 in that year, 60 of whom were from elementary schools, and that about 55 of that 60 came from council elementary schools. That rather blows sky high the suggestion of class distinction. But since that time I have made some inquiries for myself. I am a member of some years standing of the London Education Committee, and, naturally, I have been solicitous to see that, as far as possible, the door should be thrown wide open for boys from working-class and humble homes to enter the professions, believing that it is good for the professions that they should introduce new strains. It is a surprising thing that, of all the professions, there are more boys from the London institutes entering the profession of architect than any other profession. A large number of the boys who go through our ordinary evening institutes and attend classes for perfecting their training as architects come from working-class homes.
This Bill, to a certain extent, carries forward a further stage what has already been accepted both in another place and in this House. It should be borne in mind that the Royal Institute of British Architects also provide a number of bursaries, scholarships, etc., in order to enable pupils without sufficient economic resources to carry on their education. I have been interested as a layman, to observe the amount of opposition which has been promoted against this Bill by the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors, which I observe an hon. Member in a previous debate in this House described as an organisation to prevent this kind of Bill becoming law. [Interruption.] He has certainly not repudiated this, and would certainly be supporting this Bill if he were in the House this afternoon. That is his statement, as recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Society of British Architects have been charged with certain irregularities in administration, and it has been alleged that a certain fund at their disposal for the provision of bursaries and scholarships has not been wholly spent. Therefore, one would naturally be led to the conclusion that for some reason or other these bursaries were being withheld. I have found on inquiry that they are acting under a provision of the Privy Council, and are 564 not in a position to act otherwise. The advice of the Privy Council was that these scholarships should be distributed in such a manner as to give an extension over a greater number of years.
In a communication we received very late last night, this particular organisation, while not repudiating that accusation, makes some reference to it, and evidently realises that the position is unchanged. If people have to resort to that method, their case cannot be very strong, and that alone should be sufficient to condemn it in the eyes of all those who believe that we have a right to demand in such a calling as architecture the very best possible standard we can get, and those with the very best qualifications, and that opportunity should be given for people from all ranks of society to qualify. As far as I can see, this Bill affords that opportunity.
The House is now asked to complete the work which it has been doing for a series of years. Gradually, by experience, it has more and more confirmed the urgent necessity of a definite standard of qualifications for people who carry on architectural work. The movement has been carried forward with such success that it is now felt that definite steps should be taken so that it should be made plain that certain people who carry on work as architects are not really qualified. There will be no objection to builders and others who want to build for ribbon development and in connection with other estates, to build there, but they should not be allowed to call themselves architects. The community will then know what they are faced with. They will know whether they are engaging an unskilled man, a person who has not the requisite qualifications, or whether they are engaging a man who is skilled and has reached a certain standard, and who will be not only amenable to his employer, but amenable to the standards and the codes which have grown up with a profession which has every concern for its own honour.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Tasker
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
The dissertation of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) was very interesting and intriguing to me, 565 because it appeared to be founded on the kind of facts, which are really fiction, as contained in the speeches in another place when this Bill was introduced there. It was introduced in another place by a Noble Lord. Those who have been associated with that Noble Lord know that it is impossible for him to practise deception. Deception is so foreign to his nature that it would be impossible for him to deceive any man. Therefore, with a character like that it was all the more easy to impose upon his good nature and cupidity. I want to call attention to statements made by the Noble Lord in another place in introducing the Bill. He said:I think that the Act has worked smoothly.
§ Mr. Speaker
I thought the remarks of the hon. Member were with regard to a Noble Lord. When he spoke of the Noble Lord I did not know whether he spoke of cupidity or stupidity. Either would be out of order in this House.
§ Sir R. Tasker
I said "cupidity." Perhaps I had better refrain from expressing my view as to the mental attitude of the Noble Lord or of anybody else in connection with this extraordinary Measure. I certainly was not referring to my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone when I was quoting. I have been a member of the Architects' Registration Council ever since its inception, so far from it working smoothly I can assure the House that the meetings of that council are more like a bear garden than a meeting of professional men. The Noble Lord went on to say:I do not hesitate to say that at least 90 per cent. of the registered architects are very ready to support this amending Bill. …I must deny that statement because when the Bill was introduced into another place there could not have been 12 people who knew of its existence. According to the hon. Member for Maidstone, there are 7,000 or 8,000 architects who belong to one society. According to the calendar of the Royal Institute of British Architects they account for the existence of 19,000 architects. I declare to the House that the Architects' Registration Council as such were never consulted about this 566 Bill. The council have experienced great difficulties in putting the Act into operation in the direction that they desired, namely, the promotion of architecture and the betterment of conditions. They passed the following resolution unanimously.That in view of the several ambiguities of the Act, which are calculated to embarrass the Architects' Registration Council of the United Kingdom and its committee in the proper and equitable administration of the Act, this council do now take action to draft and secure as soon as possible such amendment of the Act as may be deemed necessary.
§ Sir R. Tasker
I have read all, except two words. Upon that resolution, a committee of the Architects' Registration Council was set up. It proceeded to examine the anomalies and ambiguities of the Act and then suddenly it was resolved by a small section of the council, acting on that committee, that work for the time being should be suspended and that they would create a Parliamentary Committee. That Parliamentary Committee consisted of, I think, six members of the Royal Institute of British Architects, with the chairman and vice-chairman, one member of the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors, and one representing the unattached architects. When they met to consider the question of an amending Bill, the chairman seems to have promptly ruled: "We are not here to discuss ambiguities. We are here to propose a Bill and send it up to the Registration Council." The meeting was adjourned. When the Architects' Registration Council then met, this astounding resolution was proposed from the Chair:That any member of the Parliamentary Committee who is unable to give unconditional support to an amending Bill on the lines laid down by the Council, shall ipso facto cease to be a member of the Committee.When that extraordinary suggestion was put forward by the chairman of the council we naturally wanted to know what was behind it. We tried by interrogation to know what the chairman of the council and the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee had in mind, but we could get no information. Representatives of other bodies also made inquiries but they got no satisfaction. One 567 member of the council having been deported from the Parliamentary Committee—
§ Sir R. Tasker
I must refrain from giving names. One member having been deported from the committee, the first thing members of the Registration Council knew was that a Bill had been presented in another place by the Noble Lord purporting to come from the Architects' Registration Council. It never came from the Architects' Registration Council. We were never consulted about it. It was the work of a few men acting as a Parliamentary Committee. It is an astonishing suggestion, therefore, that 90 per cent., or any per cent. at all, of the architects are in favour of the Bill. There may be some excuse for a Noble Lord in another place making such a statement because he believed it, but I can find no such excuse for the hon. Member for Maidstone, who is an architect and ought not to be so easily deluded. The Noble Lord, in introducing the Bill in another place, said:The registration board has set up a most elaborate educational committee on which I suppose every architectural view of education is amply represented.When the Bill was before the House in 1931 certain predictions were made and were epitomised by one institution. This is what they said:The constitution and control of the Board of Architectural Education will continue and remain under the control of the Council of the Royal Institute of British Architects as a statutory means of recruiting membership for that body and to the exclusion of competitive examining bodies. In this way would the Royal Institute of British Architects obtain a monopoly effect which the House of Commons denies in fact.This is to ensure that the Royal Institute of British Architects fulfils its promise that when the Bill becomes an Act the qualifications for registration would be the qualifications of the Royal Institute of British Architect membership, and thus would it secure its objective, to consolidate the profession in one organisation. That is the real object of the Bill. It is not a Bill to deal with ribbon development and it is not an attempt to belittle the Royal Institute of British Architects. I have known that body longer than my hon. Friend. I know the 568 splendid work it has done, and I realise the value of their scholarships. I know the generosity of my hon. Friend towards that institution. But let us look at the Amendments which are required. The first the provision ofAn independent Council of Control representative of architects and relevant interests, with safeguards to prevent excessive representation of any particular organisation of architects.The First Schedule does not provide this. The result has been that the Architects Registration Council, as well as its committees, is a packed body with an overwhelming number of men of one institution. The second requirement was:That any examination board under the Act shall be a committee of this Council, appointed by it, responsible to it, and subject to its regulations.The Bill does not provide for this. In the third place it was said:The Bill shall contain no provision giving membership advantages to any particular organisation of architects such, for example, as the recognition of a particular membership examination, which is proposed by Clause 7 of the Bill.All these Amendments have been predicted. I was not alone in making these predictions. We knew that the Act would be an utter failure, and an utter failure it has proved to be. The Registration Council met and it was evident that the real purpose of the scheme was to bring about a condition of affairs when we should be controlled by the Royal Institute of British Architects. I hope that a man can be an architect without being a member of that body. The Bill suggests that you should compel every man who desires to practise as an architect to be registered. The hon. Member for Maidstone did not tell us what was going to happen to the eminent architects who decline to be registered or licensed like a pawnbroker. He cannot deny that there are many of our most eminent architects who decline to be registered, and for very good reasons. It has been admitted that the effect of opening the door to registration was to let in anyone who could declare that he had acted as an architect.
What does this Bill do? Although under the 1931 Act the door was closed after two years, and a man has to pass certain examinations and exhibiting some qualifications before he is permitted to be registered, this Bill throws the door open 569 again and says that there shall be a moratorium for two years during which anyone may apply and be registerd as an architect. There is no protection. This Bill is a sham. It is an attempt to get by dubious means the control by one body of the whole of the architectural profession. It is idle for anyone to say that it is not an attempt to create a monopoly. Let hon. Members examine it from any direction they please, and they will see that it proves clearly that the intention is to create a monopoly.
I regret to say that it is true that there has been a good deal of ill-feeling between the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors. When I entered the profession, I thought the word "architect" was synonymous with "gentleman," but I have long since abandoned the idea that the two terms are synonymous, after more than 50 years experience it hurts me to have to make an admission of that sort. I know that one of the finest gentlemen I ever met was a working stonemason. I know equally well that if the authors of this Bill had their way there would be a great deal of what hon. Members opposite would term "the old-school-tie" feeling. One finds genius in a boy whether his father is a barrister or a butcher. The 1931 Bill was designed to assist such a boy by creating scholarships, but the effects on him if this Bill were passed would be dreadful.
The hon. Member for Maidstone laid great stress upon the necessity for examinations, and I agree that there ought to be examinations. A man ought to be skilled and to qualify, and without qualifying he ought not to be entrusted with the expenditure of other people's money and with the lives and limbs of the people employed in putting up the structures, and of the people who have to live in them. I may be a little old-fashioned, but I wish that the old order of things could obtain to-day. There was a time when a man was compelled to work his way through the shop, the quarry, the brickyard, and so on, before he was allowed to occupy the great and exalted position of architect. Nowadays a man goes to the job with long flowing hair, runs his fingers through his hair, and talks about art. It is the practical man that we want—the practical genius.
570 I suggest to hon. Members that neither Sir Christopher Wren nor Inigo Jones would have passed the Royal Institute of British Architects examination. The Institute profess to attach great importance to examination and the House ought to know that the Kalendar of the Institute for 1936 showed that there were 1,767 fellows, 3,618 associates, and 2,346 licentiates, making a total of 7,731, and of that 7,731 only 4,469 had passed the examination. What is the extraordinary importance attached to this remarkable examination? Curiously enough, after the 1931 Act was passed there was a tremendous influx of licentiates into the Institute; many were rapidly transferred to fellowships—a title which would indicate a position superior to that of associate. But the extraordinary thing is that the associates of the Institute are the only people who are compelled to pass the examination. It is not necessary to pass an examination to become a licentiate or a fellow. If there are 3,262 who are fellows or licentiates and have never passed an examination, then I submit that the value of the examination has been grossly exaggerated.
My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone himself had an experience which shows the value of the examination. He gave a gold medal at the Polytechnic in Regent Street for the best drawing. It was won by a young man who afterwards submitted himself for the Institute examination. Inter alia he had to send in a drawing to show that he really could draw, and he naturally thought that the drawing which had won the Bossom gold medal at the Polytechnic would be good enough. But it was not. It was rejected. He appealed to me as a member of the Registration Council and, greatly daring, I wrote to the Secretary of the Institute and related the circumstances. The reply was that the young man must send up another drawing. The young man was very angry, at which I was not surprised. He dashed off another drawing. I thought it was an insult to send that drawing up to the Institute. It passed. He rejoices now in being able to put the letters A.R.I.B.A. after his name. I do not give that young man's name because although this is a privileged place I do not seek to take advantage of that privilege, but there must be a record of the case on the files of the Institute.
571 I feel strongly on this question of examinations, having been in touch with it for a long time. I remember when I was on the County Council a question being put to juniors of 12 years of age, "What is the Golden Horde?" I did not know the answer, and I asked the Education Officer and he did not know. The headmasters of London County Council schools were circularised and they did not know. At the end of six weeks they got the answer in the British Museum. It was a fair-haired race of Mongols. I said to the education officer, "Why not ask this pedantic humbug of a fellow who set the examination paper what it was?" because he was the only man in London apparently, outside the British Museum, who knew the answer. That is the sort of thing that you get in these examinations. There is far too much—
§ Sir R. Tasker
There is far too much value attached to these examinations, and the candidates are very largely the victims of the caprice or perhaps the state of liver of the examiner. If a candidate happens to answer as the examiner wants him to answer, he will probably get full marks, and if he does not, he will probably get trounced. Here is an example of an R.I.B.A. examination question. "Draw a cathedral." Who will want to draw a cathedral? Who will ever have a chance of building a cathedral? If one were asked the peculiar characteristics, say, of Ely or Durham or some other well-known cathedral, one could understand it. It would show that one had some education and knew something about architecture. A man was asked to give the width of a certain nave, and he could not give it. When he went up for his viva voce examination, he was asked, "Do you know that the nave of Westminster Abbey at one end is six inches wider than it is at the other?" He did not know it. I do not know it, not having tested it. That kind of question just shows the extraordinary state of mind which examiners exhibit when the poor wretched candidates come before them.
§ Sir R. Tasker
I understood that my hon. and gallant Friend was going to 572 speak later. The "Architects' Journal" of 25th March sets out the position of affairs very clearly when it refers to the temptation of the Royal Institute to eliminate all examinations save their own, and says that this dispute must be settled with a justice that is beyond question. Well, the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors desire justice, not only for their own members, but for the architects generally of this country, and—
§ Sir R. Tasker
I will take the hon. and gallant Member into my confidence and tell him how they have administered their scholarships. This is from the chairman of the finance committee. The amount placed to reserve in 1936 equalled 48 per cent. of the income for the year. The grants for scholarships equalled 25 per cent., the direct expenses 8 per cent., salaries 15 per cent., and overheads 4 per cent.; so that 27 per cent. was expended in expenses. I regret that there has been a lot of correspondence sent by both bodies to Members of Parliament. When I look at my postbag, I can say that I have probably more architects in my constituency than there are in any other constituency in the kingdom. There are hundreds of them. One would have thought that if the architects wanted this Bill, having been inspired by circular letters from the Institute, of which they are members, I should have been overwhelmed with correspondence. I have received eight requests to support the Bill. As to the number of requests to oppose it, when I counted up to 400 letters I stopped. I refused to spend any more money on penny stamps for cards acknowledging these letters.
§ Sir R. Tasker
I do not know whether they are in my association or not. They are certainly in my constituency.
§ Sir R. Tasker
If the hon. Member cares to come to my office I could show him 100 in Gray's Inn alone. The hon. Member may know all about skyscrapers in New York, but he is behind the times with 573 regard to London. These are some extracts from the letters, and the House should know what some people think of the Bill. One writer refers to the "self-complacent attitude" and the "craftiness indulged in by you politicians." He underlines the word "you." Another says that the Institute is controlled by "Pecksniffs, jackals and commercial travellers."
§ Sir William Davison
On a point of Order. Is it not customary on these afternoons, when a number of Members desire to speak, that hon. Members should confine their speeches as shortly as possible to the point so as not to prevent other hon. Members who desire to intervene taking part in the discussion?
§ Sir R. Tasker
I thank you for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has not refrained from butting in when Waterloo Bridge and the affairs of the London County Council have been under discussion and as he crowded me out on several occasions when I wanted to speak, although I do know something about the work of the London County Council and he has never served on that body, he must not complain when I am talking about my own profession. As I have said, I have had all these letters, but they do no good, and I am inclined to say about them, "A plague on both your houses." I wish people would refrain from writing to Members of Parliament for, quite frankly, I do not think it influences them one way or the other. This Bill went through its Committee stage in another place, and one Noble Lord said of it then that it really was an attempt to create a monopoly.
§ Sir R. Tasker
Would it be in order for me to refer to someone, some vague person, who had stated certain things in criticism of the Measure without mentioning any names?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Rule in this House against quoting speeches made in another place is very definite; certainly speeches which have been made in the same Session of Parliament must not be quoted.
§ Sir R. Tasker
The Bill having been promoted in another place I thought I might assist the House to learn the views which were expressed there, and save hon. Members the trouble of acquiring a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Sir R. Tasker
There is a general impression, not confined to architects, that this Bill is an attempt to create a monopoly. That view has been expressed in public places, at dinners and at meetings, though we have been assured by those who presented the Bill that they had no such intention. I am sorry that I cannot read any other intention into it. It is also alleged that it has received great support. I should have liked to interrupt my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone when he was telling us who had supported the Bill and ask him how they could have supported a Bill about which nobody save some half a dozen members of the Royal Institute of British Architects knew a single word. The Parliamentary Agents knew, of course, but the general public and architects did not know. The opposition to the Bill is not due to any desire to belittle the Royal Institute of British Architects. That is the last thing in the world I wish to do. On more than one occasion I have paid tribute to the value of the work they have done, but I regret that the members of it do not apparently take sufficient interest in it to do things in the way I should like.
We have heard about creative art and I am tempted to ask whether the very best thing that could be produced in the way of creative art is to be found in the new headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects in Portland Place. There must be differences of opinion. To me that building is unattractive, yet it must have commended itself to a lot of people for it to have been erected. That just shows that great differences of opinion exist between one section of the community and another. I admire a Grecian temple, but nobody wants to build Grecian temples to-day. When I had to draw those temples again and again I learned one thing which is apparently not taught to-day, and that is, to have some sense of proportion. Modern architecture, as I see it, is largely composed of horizontal lines and vertical 575 lines. Apparently it is the object of the schools to-day to teach a boy to use a T-square as a set-square, and that passes for architecture. There is no proportion about it. To me the results are rather hideous.
Here is a letter from the Registrar of the Architects Registration Council, on whose authority I know not. He says:I enclose, for the information of your Council, a copy of the Bill that was introduced in the House of Lords yesterday by Lord Crawford, at the instance of this Council.That is inaccurate. It was not at the instance of the Council. It was apparently at the instance of this Parliamentary Committee. Among other things, I am exposing the very dubious way in which affairs are conducted and which I regard as improper. I have never known a committee of a council to override the body which created that committee, but that is constantly done here, and this House is being asked to approve the conduct of the Registration Council of the United Kingdom.
I have a letter of protest from the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers. They did not hear anything about objections to the Bill from my hon. and gallant Friend, but they say that they have serious objections to it. They say that the experience of registration in the past has been unsatisfactory, and they go on to declare:It is impossible to overlook the fact that the Admission Committee have not confined their attention to the simple question whether applicants have in fact practised as architects; they have taken into consideration questions of training, etc., to which the Act did not entitle them to refer, and by exceeding the powers conferred upon them by the Act they have rejected a number of applicants who were undoubtedly practising architects before the specified date.That is a very serious complaint, but there has been no attempt at investigation by the Architects Registration Council. Therefore I suggest to the House that further powers should not be given to the Architects Registration Council, because it is an off-shoot, as at present constituted, of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) pleaded very hard in 1931 for architects engaged by co-operative societies. Well, the axe will be laid—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Moore
On a point of Order. I hope to try to reply to some of the hon. Gentleman's arguments, but I have only been able to hear one word out of two of what he has been saying, and I should like to ask whether I might appeal to the hon. Gentleman, through you, Mr. Speaker, if it is a point of Order, to allow the House to judge whether he is talking of a matter of interest or not? At present I am completely unable to hear his arguments, if there are any.
§ Mr. T. Henderson
May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was holding a little meeting on his own account?
§ Sir R. Tasker
I thought, in my innocence, that my remarks ought to be addressed to you, Mr. Speaker, and not to the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. Here is a very interesting letter—[Laughter]. It is not a laughing matter to us, whatever it may be to those whose livelihood does not depend upon it. This letter says:I wonder if the Register is going to be a good thing or the reverse. Is there any appeal against their decision? If so, what is the procedure? I am a registered architect, and the principal of a firm which has been in existence 60 years, and yet my son, aged 27, has been refused registration, presumably because he is not a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. I am easing off, and want him to gradually take over, but he can hardly do this if he is not registered. Surely, after having served his articles and been with me for 10 years, he is entitled to be registered. I know of men who are really only estate agents who are registered, and also members of their staffs, yet the son of an old established firm is refused admission.I want to refer to the support which my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) alleges has been given to the Bill. Before the list of names which he read out, these words occur:There is reason to believe that the Bill is supported by the National Federation of Building Trades Operatives"—and so on. That puts a very different complexion upon the state of affairs. My hon. Friend made the definite statement that it was supported by these people.
§ Mr. Bossom
The chairman of the National Federation of Building Trades 577 Operatives was to have seconded this Bill, but, unfortunately, he is ill. It was on his assurance that I made that statement this afternoon.
§ Sir R. Tasker
I am not impugning the good faith of my hon. Friend; I know that he really believed that what he was stating was accurate; and the same applies to the chairman of the National Federation of Building Trades Operatives. Here is a letter signed by the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom:The committee have given an undertaking to the Association of Architects, Surveyors, and Technical Assistants that, in the event of the Bill being passed into law, steps will be taken to secure the assent of the Privy Council to the amendment of Regulation 26.Who made the Architects Registration Council the dictators to the Privy Council, to direct the Privy Council what to do? That is the tone of the whole of this business. I have had handed to me a certain document and I asked my hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill whether it is accurate or not for it is attributed to him. The document reads:Mr. Bossom and Mr. Hicks had an interview with the Deputy Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, who has given assurances that the Home Office approved the Bill.Is that accurate? I hope that the Under-Secretary of State, who is present, will answer the question. I do not believe that he or any Minister would authorise such an admission and compromise himself. It would be wrong for me to continue further, because the House is getting into a facetious mood and this is really a serious matter. I say to hon. Members opposite that if this Bill goes through, if what the ruling powers have in mind comes into operation, the will of Parliament, as expressed in the Act of 1931, will be defeated, and the outlook will be perfectly hopeless. Parliament said, "You shall give 50 per cent. of the income for scholarships." That body came to this House two years later and said, "We have no money; will you relieve us of this obligation?" And Parliament did. To-day that scholarship fund amounts to over £3,900. Posterity may be a very fine thing, but during the few remaining years I have to live I want to see the great 578 and glorious art of architecture advance; I do not want to see come into existence any institution which is going to diminish, deteriorate or take away any of the glorious traditions which we enjoy to-day. It is because I feel that this Bill is not to the benefit of architecture, not to the benefit of my fellow countrymen, that I have moved the Amendment.
§ 3.44 P.m.
§ Mr. McEntee
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am not in the architectural profession, and to-day I feel rather glad that I am not in the profession. The only sense in which I would desire to be considered an architect is that I sometimes call myself the architect of my own destiny, but if this Bill were to become law I should not be allowed to use that designation about myself in the future, because Clause r says that only those who have registered will be allowed to use the word "architect,"Provided that nothing in this Section shall affect the use of the designation 'Naval architect' for 'Landscape architect'So that, presumably, if I were to designate myself architect of my own destinies, I should be committing a breach of the law. I am opposed to the Bill for many reasons which have already been given and for some others. I feel that the purpose of the Bill is to create such a monopoly for the Royal Institute of British Architects as has already been created by certain other professions, and I think, if such a monopoly were created, it would be a definite hardship to many brilliant young men and women who come from working-class families.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Moore
Do not all the scholarships at present given by the profession go to purely necessitous students? That is a fact. I am asking the hon. Member whether he is aware of it.
§ Mr. McEntee
I am well aware of what is happening under the existing law, and it is because I think the present position would be worsened as a consequence of the passing of the Bill that I am opposing it. I am not satisfied with the way in which the existing law has been administered. The Council held an examination last year and, of 60 scholars who sat for the examniation, 10 were selected for interviews. For some extraordinary reason they selected the one who got the 579 highest and the second highest number of points in the examination, the one who got seventh and the one who got tenth, passing over the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9. Number three was aged 21¿ years. His total examination marks were 323, the highest being 351 and the second highest 326. The one to whom I refer particularly, who was not given a scholarship, received 60 marks for drawing, which was very high up in the percentage of marks for drawing, and only 20 for design. He might be considered on design only as having failed, and in consequence of that there might be some reason for his rejection, but when I look lower down the list I find that the one who was number 10 received only 276 marks as against 323, only 15 for drawing as against 60, and only 15 for design as against 20, yet he was passed and given a scholarship. This young man was aged 22¿ as against the other man's 21¿, so it was not on age, it was not on marks, it was not on drawing or design. On all these points he was well behind any of the other selected candidates for interviews.
Another point in respect of which scholarships are supposed to be given is that of need. The one who was rejected is the son of a widow in very poor circumstances who made tremendous efforts to give her son the education which enabled him to obtain these high marks. The one who was passed and was No. 10 on the list comes from a family in very much better circumstances. There is something wrong, therefore, behind the scenes in the means by which boys are selected for scholarships in cases like that.
§ Sir John Withers
Is there not a viva voce examination? In almost every sholarship examination, the examiners see the boys and supplement the written questions with verbal questions, and that is part of the examination.
§ Mr. McEntee
It is because I know that system and realise how vicious it is that I am objecting to-day. Like many other Members of the House, I have sat on a local education committee for a number of years, and I know the kind of oral examination which used to take place in my district when children were brought in front of the secondary schoolmaster or schoolmistress. I know the reason that 580 induced them to reject candidates whose work was infinitely better than that of some of those who were selected. It is for that reason that I am opposed to the Bill. I am surprised and sorry to see my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) giving support to this Bill. The only excuse which I could make for his supporting it is the statement he made at the beginning of his speech, that he knew nothing at all about architecture.
§ Mr. McEntee
He did say that he had very little knowledge of it, and in that I certainly agree with him. As to the organisations said to be supporting the Bill, I would say to the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom) that he is entirely misinformed in regard to some of the organisations about which I know more than he does. I happen to be a member of a society which is affiliated to the National Federation of Building Trade Operatives, and we, at any rate, do not support the Bill. I know of no organisation affiliated to the Building Trade Operatives which has been asked for support in regard to the Bill. Consequently, whoever has told the hon. Member that they have the support of the federation, all I can say is, they may have the support, as I know they have, of some members of the federation, but they have not the support of the federation itself. The same would apply to almost all the organisations he mentioned in his speech to-day. I should be very sorry indeed to think that they would have supported it. One of the objects of the federation is to make it easier for poor boys whose parents are in a trade like my own, that of carpentry, or who are joiners, bricklayers, etc., to get into some of the professions associated with those trades. Nobody can argue that this Bill will make it easier, but everybody must know perfectly well, that it will make it more difficult. It is one of the objects of the Bill to make it more difficult to enter the profession. As the hon. Member for Holborn (Sir R. Tasker) said, the Bill will introduce into the profession to a greater measure than exists to-day, the old school tie idea.
581 Let me say a few words about the people who are responsible for the administration of the principal Act. What about the balance sheet? Nobody has ever seen or, at any rate, the members of the profession have never been provided with, any balance sheet. Why? What is happening to the money that is collected? I do not say that it is misappropriated, but we have a right to know what is happening to the money that is taken by the examining board in the way of fees and in other ways associated with the duties imposed upon them under the original Act. The claim made for the Bill is that it will introduce a higher standard into the architectural profession. It will do no such thing. There are many incompetent men who are practising as architects—I know many of them—who if the Bill passes would be entitled to become registered, and they would be no more competent because of that registration than they are at the present time, unregistered. Clause 2 says:Subject to the provisions of this Act, a person shall, on application made to the Council in the prescribed manner and on payment of the prescribed fee, be entitled to be registered under the principal Act, if the Council are satisfied on a report of the Admission Committee that his application for registration was made within two years from the commencement of this Act and that at the commencement of this Act he was, or had been, practising as an architect in the United Kingdom.Therefore, any person who had, say, attached his name to half a dozen jerrybuilt houses and who could prove that he had been practising as an architect, 582 would be entitled to claim registration, and, according to the words of the Bill, could not be refused. It is ridiculous to say that the standards and qualifications will be raised by the passing of the Bill. I could give the names and addresses of ex-building trade superintendents, operatives really, who obtained jobs as building inspectors under local authorities and who, on reaching the age limit and becoming superannuated, went into architecture and put out all kinds of plans. They would be entitled as architects to registration under the Bill.
§ Mr. Bossom rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. McEntee
Their ability would remain approximately the same after registration, and there is no guarantee that as a consequence of the passing of the Bill the standard of education in the architectural profession would be in any way raised. I am sorry, therefore, that for that reason I must oppose the Bill. It has been said by—
§ It being Four of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.
§ Adjourned at Four o'Clock until Monday next, 12th April.