HC Deb 28 January 1969 vol 776 cc1118-9

3.54 p.m.

Mr. Arnold Shaw (Ilford, South)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend section 14 of the Architects Registration Act, 1931; to vary from time to time the proportion of the income of the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom which has to be put into the fund maintained by the Council for the support of needy students of architecture; to widen the purposes of the fund; and for purposes connected therewith. Section 14 as amended by the Architects Registration Act, 1934, reads: At least half of the total amount of the fees received in each calendar year after the year 1934 by the Council under this Act shall be devoted, in such manner and on such conditions as the Council may determine, to the provision of scholarships and maintenance grants for the assistance of students in architecture whose means appear to the Council to be insufficient to enable them to pursue their studies. This the Council has faithfully continued to operate, basing the criteria of need on those laid down from time to time by the Department of Education and Science. However, since the operation of the Education Act, 1944, such students who were likely to benefit from Section 14 are now almost entirely covered by state and municipal scholarships. In spite of the Council's liberal interpretation of the terms of Section 14, the scholarship fund, restricted, as it is, in its use, has continued to build up a very substantial reserve.

Another result of the obligation imposed by the Section has been the growing imbalance between the scholarship fund and the general fund which is used to meet other expenses of the Council. This in turn has produced an anomaly adversely affecting all architects on the Register. For example, the Council found it necessary to increase the annual retention fee as from 1st January, 1967. But for the legal requirement imposed by Section 14, directing at least half the fees to the scholarship fund, the increase could have been limited to between 10s. and £1. As it was, the fee was doubled; from 30s. to £3.

Under the terms of the 1931 Act, it was necessary to obtain the approval of the Privy Council for such an increase, and on this occasion the imbalance and anomaly was perceived by that body, which urged that steps be taken to remedy the situation. This, of course, can only be done by legislation. Hence the Bill.

The purposes of the Measure are, broadly, twofold: first, to change the fixity of one half to be devoted for the provision of grants to needy students to a proportion determined from time to time by the Council and approved by the Privy Council; and, secondly, to widen the scope within which these grants may be made.

This extended scope will enable the Council to make grants not only to needy students, but also to sponsor and support architectural education and research into architecture and the arts and sciences connected therewith. This will extend the field to such persons as sociologists, building economists and other specialists in the whole art and science of building.

My proposed Bill is completely non-contentious and has no political significance. It is supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Architects' Registration Council, the Privy Council and hon. Members on both sides of the House. I therefore commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Arnold Shaw, Mr. Chichester-Clark, Mr. Hilton, Mr. Lubbock, Mr. Wellbeloved, and Mr. R. C. Mitchell.