HC Deb 04 May 1960 vol 622 cc1167-9
Mr. Walker-Smith

I beg to move, in page 4, line 20 at end to insert: ,or (d) in consequence of his practical experience in the relevant profession, he is competent to practise that profession".

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House also to discuss the Amendment in page 4, line 23, to leave out "(c)" and to insert" (d)".

Mr. Walker-Smith

That would be convenient, Mr. Speaker. These Amendments are concerned with the procedure for admission to the initial register, which is dealt with in Clause 3 (2), and arises out of an undertaking which I gave in Committee.

In the Bill as originally presented, a qualification coupled with practical experience could be an entry into the profession. During the Committee stage, I moved to widen this to enable people who combine training and practical experience of an appropriate nature to be considered for admission to the initial register. I made it clear at the time that the term "training" was intended in a wide sense to include, for example, apprenticeship and personal training. I also undertook, after discussion in Committee, to consider whether we could widen the field still further so as to introduce the concept of competence instead of or as well as training.

The Amendment does that by introducing a fourth criterion, which will be Clause 3 (2, d). It will allow a person to be registered if he has had enough personal experience to make him competent to practice his profession. Under this new criterion there is no requirement as to training, but practical experience and resulting competence are enough for admission to the initial register. With this added to the Bill, there should be no risk of any competent practitioner being excluded from consideration for admission. This new criterion is in addition to and is not in substitution of the criterion of training plus experience. This is retained by Clause 3 (2, c) and will operate in appropriate cases.

The second Amendment, which we are also discussing, is simply to provide that the new criterion, like the other three, shall be applied retrospectively where that is necessary and appropriate.

Dr. Summerskill

Again, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has devised a form of words which will meet the requests made to him from both sides in Committee. At first sight, it must seem curious to anyone who has not considered the matter that any member of a supplementary profession should be put on a register without any training, but under these peculiar circumstances we decided that there were people who had plenty of experience but could not necessarily produce proofs of training. I am glad that the criterion of acceptance is simply one of confidence. I am sure that if this is followed no mistakes need be made.

Sir H. Linstead

I add my thanks briefly. This is a very liberal provision, but, I think, rightly so, because when the House of Commons is proposing to shut the door by creating new standards, it is only proper that every existing practitioner should be brought inside the door before it is shut. In so far as this errs on the liberal side, that is a very wise leaning for the Minister to prefer.

Dr. Donald Johnson (Carlisle)

I also thank the Minister for the consideration given to the arguments of a number of us in Committee on this matter. I welcome the Amendment. There was a danger of a number of very worthy people being excluded owing to different interpretations of the word "training ", and we are all pleased to see that he will welcome into the scope of this Bill all those who have given a lifetime of service in the professions, particularly in chiropody, even though actual particulars of their training have been lost in the mists of time. I thank him once again, both on my own behalf and on behalf of certain of my constituents, whose case I have put to him and to his predecessors.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 4, line 23, leave out "(c)" and insert "(d)". —[Mr. Walker-Smith.]