§ Mr. Russell
I beg to move, in page 3, line 28, after "name" to insert:or a name under which it carried on business".
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I think the hon. Member's next Amendment, and his Amendment in page 3, line 41, after "existence", insert:or a name under which it or any such body carried on business".can be taken with this one.
§ Mr. Russell
The Amendment deals with the question of bodies corporate. There have been occasions when a body corporate has been included in the National Health Service not under its corporate name but under a business name. These Amendments are to enable such a body to enrol under subsection (2, b) of the Clause in the same way as it would have been included to carry out its business under a corporate name.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 32, leave out from "corporate" to "or" and insert:
entitled to be enrolled by virtue of this paragraph".—[Mr. Russell.]
§ Mr. Russell
I beg to move, in page 3, line 33, after "lists," to insert:(c) if it satisfies the Council that the greater part of its business consists of activities other than the testing of sight and the fitting and supply of optical appliances and that so much of its business as consists of the testing of sight is carried on under the management of a registered ophthalmic optician and that so much thereof as consists of the fitting and supply of optical appliances is carried on under the management of a registered optician.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
With this Amendment can be taken the hon. 540 Member's next Amendment, in page 3, line 37, and also his Amendment in Clause 11, page 9, line 21.
§ Mr. Russell
This Amendment is proposed as a result of representations made by a number of my hon. Friends and of hon. Members on the other side of the House. It replaces an Amendment which was down on the Paper until yesterday in their name to deal with this question of bodies corporate and co-operative societies. The Bill in its present form might create difficulties for firms or societies which are formed in future and whose main business is not that of opticians but something quite different. It was never intended to prevent such societies or bodies from being enrolled subject to the required conditions. This new paragraph (c) covers corporate bodies other than co-operative societies and the next Amendment, in line 37, is intended to cover co-operative societies in the same way.
§ Mr. Burden
I beg to second the Amendment.
As the Bill stands it would make it quite impossible for any firm of general storekeepers, unless they already had an ophthalmic department, to open one. It would create difficulties for certain co-operative bodies. It is felt that this would be a desirable Amendment. It ensures that the public are fully protected by insisting that the department shall be under the operation of a fully qualified optician.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
I think the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) was probably mistaken on one point. The Bill as it stands would not prevent a co-operative society, if it wished, from providing an ophthalmic service. The point was that the Amendment as originally drawn, which was intended to be in place of the present sub-section (c), would have prevented a society registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts from starting to offer an optical service to its members if it so happened that it was a specialist service and not dealing mainly with services or with goods other than an optical service.
I should like to express my appreciation to the sponsors of the Bill for substituting this Amendment, which gives 541 them what they require, and against which I am not arguing, but which at the same time does not inhibit in any way the growth of a co-operative service of the type originally envisaged.
I would add that I support the intention in the second of these Amendments proposed by the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) relating to the industrial and provident societies. I should not have thought that it was necessary, because all optical services now provided by co-operative societies are managed by or under the supervision of qualified opticians. It was always intended that these services should be under that kind of management. However, if it is required to place this on the Statute Book, then certainly those hon. Friends of mine for whom I speak and the Co-operative movement generally will be happy to see it on the Statute Book.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
Although the Amendment has been moved and seconded in the most reasonable way, and although I am sure we all understand the objects behind it, I think the attention of the House should be drawn to the fact that it does appear to depart from the recommendations of the Crook Report, on which this Bill is very largely based. I think I am right in saying that paragraphs 94 to 96 are the relevant ones and that they made it clear that the Committee, at the time when it was considering this matter, felt that optics were something which ought not to be mixed up with some other kind of business and that the corporate bodies, if they were to be recognised, ought to have registered opticians on their boards of directors.
I understand furthermore that in the multiple stores—I am not talking of the co-operative stores but the ordinary commercial multiple stores—which run optical departments the ordinary practice is for them to be run on an agency basis at present by a large number of multiple firms of ophthalmic opticians. In that case those departments really satisfy the requirements of the existing subsection (2, b) of Clause 4.
I am not entirely clear why that arrangement cannot be allowed to continue, why it is necessary to widen the 542 conditions under which the department can be set up. Of course it is true that there is some safeguard inasmuch as the professional man in charge of the department will presumably be in trouble with the Optical Council if he departs from professional standards in any way. That much I can see. At the same time I feel that the apparent departure from the recommendations of the Crook Report, which would be introduced by the Amendment, should be brought to the notice of the House.
§ Mr. Russell
If I may, by leave of the House, reply very briefly to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett), I think I can give him the assurance that the number of cases which will arise out of this will be comparatively small. It is, I agree, a slight departure from the Crook Report in that respect. It is really to cover, in the case of bodies corporate, not co-operative societies, but a large store, for example, which might open a branch in another city under another name. We were advised that if that did happen the ophthalmic department of that branch would not be covered by the Bill in its present form. It is purely to guard against probably very few instances of that kind that this Amendment is proposed.
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Griffiths
I think it is true that, as the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) has said, this small departure from the Report of the Crook Committee is one which aroused certain apprehensions among ophthalmic opticians. However, we feel that the Bill has safeguards for their professional status. We have had some experience of interference by lay people in a field which we think is one for professional responsibility and decision. Nevertheless, having made that observation, I think that the Bill as drafted gives protection to the profession.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In page 3, line 37, at end insert:
and if it satisfies the General Optical Council that so much of its business as consists of the testing of sight, or of the fitting and supply of optical appliances, as the case may be, is carried on under such management as aforesaid
In line 41, after "existence", insert:
or a name under which it or any such body carried on business".—[Mr. Russell.]