HC Deb 24 January 1978 vol 942 cc1187-93

3.55 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Hairdressers (Registration) Act 1964. Many right hon. and hon. Members with knowledge and seniority far greater than mine will recall that a former Conservative Member for Battersea, South, Mr. Ernest Partridge, piloted through the House in the 1963–64 Session of Parliament a Private Members' Bill which led to the establishment of the Hairdressing Council, with the added requirement that it should establish a register of qualified hairdressers and set up suitable training courses and qualifications for those wishing to enter the craft.

It was the original intention of that measure that all future entrants should be required successfully to complete an approved training course before setting up in business. Unfortunately, that mandatory aspect of the original Clause 3 of the Bill of 1964 was withdrawn by the promoter, since it was felt by some right hon. and hon. Members at the time, some of whom are still here, as well as by Ministers, I believe, to be unduly restrictive of the rights of the individual.

Fourteen years have elapsed since the passing of the Act, and experience gained in that time has convinced the Hairdressing Council—of which both the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) and I are members—I declare that interest—and has convinced nearly everyone else in the hairdressing trade to whom I have spoken—I am sure that many hon. Members have received letters on the subject—of the need to rectify the situation.

There have, unhappily, been too many cases of non-registered inexperienced operators using chemicals and other substances of which they have no real practical knowledge, with quite disastrous results. Some of these cases have been amply reported in the Press, and all of them have reflected badly on the 20,000 or so registered operators in the trade.

The Hairdressing Council, can, I believe, be said to be doing a first-class job in improving standards. That is a fact which seems to be readily acknowledged by hon. Members on both sides. The right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition has attended the annual Student of the Year Award, as has the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), as well as my right hon. Friend the Leader of my party, the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel).

I believe it to be true that the Hairdressing Council has performed a very useful role, but it is powerless to act in such cases as those to which I have referred. Serious skin diseases which, if treated properly, can be cured or at least contained, are sometimes not recognised and in the worst cases can be transmitted to other customers.

Over the past 15 years, there has been an enormous boom in the whole hairdressing business, especially on the ladies' side—often to our own cost! To meet the demand, two-year courses have been established at no fewer than 150 local education authority technical colleges and colleges of further education throughout the country. Several high-class salons of world repute now run their own extensive apprenticeship courses. Vast sums of public money are being expended to ensure that those entering the trade have a thorough knowledge of their subject.

It therefore seems ridiculous not to give those people and the general public who use their services in vast numbers the protection from the inexperienced operator which they should surely have.

I urge that it is time that we joined most of our partners in the EEC as well as our colleagues in the United States of America and most Western countries and put our house in order, giving, incidentally at the same time, some protection to registered established hairdressers.

My Bill will be designed to cover five main points. First, all entrants should be required to take an approved course of training. Second, on completion of the course, they will be required to pass an approved examination or to have been assessed as satisfactory by their course tutors.

Third, registration in the statutory register of hairdressers on successful completion of training should be mandatory. Fourth, all persons wishing to open a hairdressing salon and to employ and train staff and apprentices should be required to possess a master craftsmen's diploma or to employ a manager who possesses such a diploma. Fifth, all those teaching at technical colleges or colleges of further education should hold the master craftsman's diploma.

The Farriers Registration Act, which was passed by the House in two stages last year and the year before, now rightly requires people who shoe horses to be properly qualified. Surely it is time that we applied a similar criterion to those who treat our hair. Major organisations representing both employers' and employees' interests support the need for this legislation, and I trust that the House will do the same.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Peter Brooke (City of London and Westminster, South)

I am not myself an advertisement for the craft which is the subject of the Bill, but many and various are the invisible earnings of the City of London and Westminster, South. The Department of Trade includes hairdressing as an invisible earning. The placid and sensible motion introduced with sweet reasonableness by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) conceals turbulent eddies of disunited opinion within the craft. If anybody doubts this, I ask him to consider why it has taken 14 years for this matter to be brought back to the House.

Of the 15 members of the Hairdressing Council who were appointed under the 1964 Act to which the hon. Member referred, two were appointed by the National Hairdressers Federation and two by the Incorporated Guild of Hairdressers, Wigmakers and Perfumers. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight, as a member of the Hairdressing Council, will be aware that there has not always been sweetness and light between those two bodies during the past 14 years. The guild, in its open forum of September 1976, made a commendable effort to bring the whole craft together, but the National Hairdressers Federation would not attend on that occasion.

Outside the two bodies of the guild and the federation are the commercial schools, which are often part of a chain of hairdressing salons. These schools are not riding on the back of the two bodies to which I have referred, since registered hairdressers everywhere contribute to the funds and finances of the Hairdressing Council. The best of these schools are among the leaders of the craft in the world.

It should be a matter of pride to the House that, though in past years the centre of this craft world-wide has been either in Paris or in Germany, and it has been Frenchmen and Germans who have carried off the prizes at international competitions, those prizes are now won by citizens of the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom has become the centre of this craft. The majority of the winners of those prizes come from the commercial schools to which I have just referred.

In the trailer to this Bill in the House magazine, the hon. Member mentioned our wives. The names that our wives would recognise as the good and great of this craft are those that come from the commercial schools. The World Federation of Supreme Hairdressing Schools, which operates in 20 countries with its headquarters in Rotterdam, has one member school in each country. It used to have eight in this country but now has four. That itself is an indication of the importance of these schools world-wide. It is significant that it was the schools themselves that pruned their numbers from eight to four.

In terms of the schools' role and the relationship of the schools to the rest of the craft, in 1974 as many as 1,000 students came in from the State colleges to attend a teach-in at one of the commercial schools. There are sessions held on Sundays at these commercial schools at the request of teachers and students from the State schools in order not to interfere with the State schools' curriculum. The Training Services Agency makes use of the commercial schools for its TOPS programme.

Some 75 per cent. of the students, at least of the schools in central London, come from abroad, wherein lies the problem. If the United Kingdom represents the centre and cream of the craft, and if the commercial schools contribute to that cream, why should not these schools and their qualifications be included in the registration? Other crafts and trades have approved private enterprise training and retraining. Why should not hairdressing do the same?

First, the guild to which I referred recognises and approves the schools about which I am talking. But, second, the commercial schools approached the Hairdressing Council several years ago and asked it whether its examination would be acceptable as a qualification. The Hairdressing Council accepted it, thanked them and said that it would let them know. Nothing has been heard since.

The schools, 18 months ago, invited the National Hairdressers Federation to send two inspectors to have a look at the schools, and the schools said "If our standards are inadequate, of course we shall reform and revise them." The inspectors accepted the invitation. They came to look at the schools. They said that they would report back. Again, nothing has been heard from that day to this.

To be fair, there is a basis for disagreement. The Hairdressing Council would like to see a two-year full-time course or a three-year apprenticeship as the qualification for registration. The schools' course lasts seven and a half months and is, of course, more concentrated. It lasts 1,000 hours. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight referred to the European experience. I should advise the House that 1,000 hours or thereabouts is the length of time required for registration in the various individual states of the United States of America, which has seperate regulations for each state. The time spent in private schools in the United States is counted towards those 1,000 hours.

The Hairdressing Council feels that the course should be protracted rather than concentrated and that time plays a rose in the training of hairdressers. I am in no position to argue this academic point. The critics of the State scheme point out that, being two-thirds theory and one-third practical, there is too much theory.

They say that a shorter, more practical course would achieve better results because students become bored with the amount of theory that they have to absorb.

I am reluctant to oppose this Bill because the aims concerning general registration and the master craftsman diploma are those which the commercial schools themselves applaud and approve, and they should commend themselves to the commonsense of the House. But the inclusion of the commercial schools and their qualifications, given their standing, frankly, should also commend itself to the commonsense of the House.

In all the 14 years since the Act was passed, the Hairdressing Council has done little to bring the commercial schools into the general fraternity of the craft. They have done nothing significant, in advance of the hon. Gentleman giving notice of the Bill this afternoon, to reach a compromise agreement on the qualifications that they offer.

If the hon. Gentleman would take his Bill away and reach agreement with the commercial schools, I should be happy to withdraw any opposition of mine. Indeed, if he would have my name on the Bill, I would be glad to give it. But, given the experience of the commercial schools during the past 14 years, I do not blame them for not giving the benefit of the doubt to the Hairdressing Council. Therefore, I feel obliged to oppose this Bill.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

What a lot of rubbish.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business): —

The House divided: Ayes 158, Noes 77.

Division No. 72] AYES [4.09 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Dalyell, Tam
Anderson, Donald Campbell, Ian Davidson, Arthur
Armstrong, Ernest Canavan, Dennis Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)
Ashley, Jack Carmichael, Neil Davies, Rt Hon Denzil
Ashton, Joe Cartwright, John Davies, Clinton (Hackney C)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Castle, Rt Hon Barbara de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Clemitson, Ivor Dempsey, James
Bates, Alf Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Dormand, J. D.
Bean, R. E. Cohen, Stanley Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Corbett, Robin Eadie, Alex
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Crawshaw, Richard English, Michael
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Cryer, Bob Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Cunningham. Dr J. (Whiteh) Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sever, John
Evans, John (Newton) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lipton, Marcus Sillars, James
Flannery, Martin Litterick, Tom Skinner, Dennis
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Freud, Clement McCartney, Hugh Spriggs, Leslie
Garrett, John (Norwich S) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Stallard, A. W.
George, Bruce McElhone, Frank Steel, Rt Hon David
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John MacFarquhar, Roderick Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Ginsburg, David Madden, Max Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Golding, John Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Gould, Bryan Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Graham, Ted Mendelson, John Thompson, George
Grant, George (Morpeth) Mikardo, Ian Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Mitchell, Austin Tinn, James
Grocott, Bruce Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Tomlinson, John
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Harper, Joseph Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Newens, Stanley Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Hayman, Mrs Helene O'Halloran, Michael Ward, Michael
Heffer, Eric S. Palmer, Arthur Wellbeloved, James
Hooley, Frank Park, George Welsh, Andrew
Hooson, Emiyn Pavitt, Laurie White, James (Pollok)
Huckfield. Les Penhaligon, David Whitehead, Phillip
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Perry, Ernest Whitlock, William
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Price, William (Rugby) Wigley, Dafydd
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Radice, Giles Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Hunter, Adam Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Jeger, Mrs Lena Rhodes James, R. Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Richardson, Miss Jo Wise, Mrs Audrey
John, Brynmor Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Woodall, Alec
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Robinson, Geoffrey Wrigglesworth, Ian
Kelley, Richard Roderick, Caerwyn Young, David (Bolton E)
Kerr, Russell Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Kinnock, Neil Rooker, J. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lambie, David Rose, Paul B. Mr. Stephen Ross and
Lee, John Rowlands, Ted Mrs. Margaret Bain.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Holland, Philip Peyton, Rt Hon John
Berry, Hon Anthony Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Biggs-Davison, John Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Brotherton, Michael Howell. Ralph (North Norfolk) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Buck, Antony Hurd, Douglas Rathbone, Tim
Budgen, Nick Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Burden, F. A. Jopling, Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Cope, John Lawson, Nigel Skeet, T. H. H.
Costain, A. P. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lloyd, Ian Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Dunlop, John Marten, Neil Speed, Keith
Durant, Tony Mates, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Meyer, Sir Anthony Stanley, John
Eyre, Reginald Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Moate, Roger Wakeham, John
Fisher, Sir Nigel Molyneaux, James Weatherill, Bernard
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Montgomery, Fergus Wells, John
Glyn, Dr Alan Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Goodhew, Victor Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Wiggin, Jerry
Goodiad, Alastair Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Winterton, Nicholas
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mudd, David Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Gray, Hamish Neave, Airey Younger, Hon George
Grist, Ian Nott, John
Hampson, Dr Keith Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Page, Richard (Workington) Mr. Peter Brooke and
Hicks, Robert Parkinson, Cecil Mr. Robin Hodgson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Stephen Ross, Mrs. Renée Short, Mr. Stanley Cohen, Mrs. Joyce Butler, Mrs. Jill Knight, Mrs. Margaret Bain, Mr. Ernest G. Perry, Mr. William Molloy, and Mr. Cyril Smith.