HL Deb 15 June 1938 vol 109 cc955-63

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Crawford.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[LORD STANMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Use of title "Architect."

1.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act a person shall not practise or carry on business under any name, style or title containing the word "Architect" unless he is a person registered under the principal Act: Provided that …

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, in subsection (1), after "principal Act," and immediately preceding the proviso, to insert: at the date of the passing of this Act or unless thereafter he is a person who makes application to the Council in the prescribed manner and on payment of the prescribed fee, is entitled to be registered under this Act and the principal Act, if the Council are satisfied on a report of the Admission Committee—

  1. (a) that he is an architect member of the Royal Academy or of the Royal Scottish Academy; or
  2. (b) that he is a person who has gained a diploma in architecture from any university in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, or from a school of architecture recognised as such by the Council; or
  3. (c) that he has passed the national qualifying examination for registration approved by the Council and held by the Board."

The noble Viscount said: Under the terms of the Act of 1931, known as the principal Act, an architect could please himself whether he registered or not. Failure to do so did not prevent him calling himself an architect. The provisions of this Bill seem clear as regards the person now practising as an architect, because there is a period during which such a person may register. When that period expires one might assume that applicants for registration would have to pass a qualifying examination, but that is not so, because the Bill makes no provision for such applicants, relying apparently on the principal Act to which I will refer later. Now the principal Act is so ambiguous and inequitable that a resolution was passed unanimously by the Registration Council to that effect. It is in order to try to remove some of the ambiguities that the Amendments in my name appear on the Amendment Paper.

There was a Whip issued yesterday by about a dozen noble Lords against my Amendments in their original form, and I have tried to meet their objections in the Amendments which are now before the House. I have added certain words to the Amendments. Paragraph (b) in this Amendment originally read that he has gained a diploma in architecture from any university in Great Britain or Northern Ireland. I have added "or from a school of architecture recognised as such by the Council," which I hope will meet noble Lords' objections. Persons who qualify under these heads must be few in number and must be all children of well-to-do people, because university education is not cheap nor are the fees of architectural schools, which I believe are 300 guineas upwards. Therefore poorer people must find some cheaper means of entry into the profession and ought to have a qualifying examination. By whom is this examination to be conducted? Surely by the Registration. Council through its Board of Architectural Education.

If you look at Clause 5 of the principal Act you will find that this Board of Education, a body established by the Registration Council, and which is in existence, is charged with the duty of holding examinations. I may surprise and shall probably shock some of your Lordships when I inform you that this body has not once carried out its statutory duty to hold examinations during the six or more years of its existence. The effect of my Amendment would be to compel the Board to carry out what Parliament ordered it to do in 1931, and which, as I have said, it has hitherto neglected to do. If these provisions are not included in the Bill what will happen? The examinations of universities and recognised schools are already accepted, but there is only one examination recognised by the Council, and that is the Royal Institute of British Architects examination. This recognition has led to a good deal of criticism in the profession, into which I do not propose to enter. It is, however, felt that the Royal Institute of British Architects has got a virtual monopoly. If there is a national qualifying examination, as there is in the legal and therapeutic professions, there will be no cause for complaint and harmony will be restored. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 9, at end, insert the said words. —(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


I am in some difficulty about this group of Amendments, because what is in your Lordships' hands has not been circulated to the House.


Oh yes.


The Paper is headed "The Amendments marked * have not been previously circulated."


They have been circulated since that was printed.


Most of your Lordships came down to the House about an hour ago, and did not have an opportunity of seeing that Paper until then, but by great good fortune I heard about these Amendments this morning, and was able to look at them. In several respects they differ from those which were originally proposed, and I think it is rather hard that Amendments which in effect destroy the whole basis of the original Act, which is six years old, should be put before your Lordships without notice. However, I must do the best I can. My noble friend is really under a great misapprehension. He says that as the Act stands the Royal Institute of British Architects has a virtual monopoly. That is a complete misapprehension. The Royal Institute of British Architects is the oldest examining body in the country. It is older than any school, and older than any university, and under these Amendments it will be prevented in future from conducting examinations as a qualification for registration. I really think there ought to be some good and strong case alleged before the Royal Institute of British Architects should be forbidden to hold examinations. It has done so for over fifty or sixty years, and no reason has been advanced why it should not be allowed to do so in future. So far for monopoly. My noble friend is under a most extraordinary misapprehension. Then he said that, as things are, children of well-to-do people alone can get entrance into a school of architecture, and he said that it cost up to £300 a year.


I said that the architectural school fees were 300 guineas a year and upwards. That was the best information I had.


I may tell my noble friend that there are schools in this country where complete qualifying examinations may be passed, after a course of from three to five years. There are the Universities of London, Sheffield, Durham, Manchester and Liverpool, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the following schools, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Cardiff, the Regent Street Polytechnic, Birmingham and Belfast, and the Architectural Association of London. Further, many of the schools also hold evening classes, in some cases at a cost of under £1 per annum. I assert that in some of those schools the fees are really nominal. Those schools are among the nineteen which are authorised by the Board of Architectural Education to hold examinations, and the boys and girls from those schools get their diplomas accordingly. There is really no answer to that, and my noble friend has been misinformed. To allege that this is a well-to-do profession is really quite fantistic, and to allege that the Royal Institute of British Architects has got a virtual monopoly, when I have given the names of these other institutions which conduct examinations and provide classes, is really an unjust thing to say.

The third point in these Amendments is that the Board of Architectural Education shall in future hold what is called a national examination. My noble friend again has been misinformed about the parent Act. That Statute sets up two Committees, one called the Council and the other called the Board. The Council deals with registration and the organisation and departmental work of registration, and the Board deals with the educational side of it. It is an immense body of seventy-five members, and it has under the parent Act power to conduct examinations. My noble friend says that it is its duty. That is not so. If he had read to the end of the clause he would have found the optional words which follow.


It says that it shall be the duty of the Board to recommend to the Council certain things, and to hold examinations in accordance with the Act.


If the noble Viscount will go on to subsection (4) of the next section, he will find that they are not obliged to do that if they prefer that this examination should be conducted by other bodies, and that is the decision that this Architectural Board has reached—that on the whole it is best for architectural education that there should be a variety of examinations instead of a single national examination. I conclude by giving the reason for that decision. It will be quite easy for this Architectural Board to say, "We will have a national examination," but the immediate effect of that would be to standardise the examination in architecture. How could the London Polytechnic, for instance, or the Technical School at Leeds compete against a national examination held in London? It could not do so. After ten years you would suppress the smaller local schools. That would be fundamentally a mistake.

When the medical people came to form fifty years ago their system of examinations, they very wisely decided that even in medicine a centralised and national examination would be a mistake; and so Edinburgh has its degrees, Dublin gives its degrees, and Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford give their degrees, the object being that in learning, in science, in architecture—in all the sciences and arts—the greater variation you could have the better, and the less standardisation the better. I should have thought that there was no science or art in this country which less than architecture demands any measure of standardisation. This Amendment would enforce a standardised national examination. In doing so it would knock out all these smaller, though very admirable, institutions to which I have referred; and I very earnestly hope that your Lordships will not accept any of the Amendments which stand in the name of my noble friend.


I venture to support the clause as it stands, not only for the reasons put forward by my noble friend Lord Crawford, but also for an entirely separate and distinct reason. It will be observed that the clause which my noble friend Lord Bertie wishes to have dropped, provides that— where at the date of the passing of this Act any person … (ii) is a member of any of the following institutions, that is to say—

  • The Institution of Civil Engineers;
  • The Institution of Structural Engineers;
  • The Chartered Surveyors' Institution; and
  • The Institution of Municipal and County Engineers;
nothing in this section shall prevent the use of the word 'architect' in the description of that person as the holder of such an office in the service of that or any other local authority, if and so long as the local authority's servant or servants engaged under him for the purposes of such work is or include a person registered under the principal Act. That portion of the clause was arranged after correspondence between the Architects' Registration Council and the Joint Committee set up by the engineering profession to consider the terms of this Bill, and might almost be considered as passing through another place as an agreed measure in view of the decision of the engineers not to oppose further the Bill. If that is going to be dropped it is quite obvious it will upset the whole balance of this Bill so far as it applies to these respective professions. Upon that ground alone I would suggest that we ought to let this clause stand.

In particular, let me inform the House that this letter was sent from the Architects' Registration Council of the United Kingdom to the Secretary of the Joint Committee of the engineering profession on the Bill, expressing the arrangement at which they had arrived. The letter is dated May 9, 1938, and it says: As the outcome of our meeting with the representatives of the Joint Committee on Thursday, I write to say that you have my assurance that it is not, and never has been, the intention of my Council to interfere in any way with the legitimate work or functions of structural or civil engineers, and so far as my Council are concerned there is no ulterior motive behind the Bill' now before Parliament. As I have said, the clause expresses the arrangement which has been arrived at between these bodies of professional gentlemen, and I venture to suggest that the clause ought to stand in the terms in which it is at present expressed.


I think my noble friend Lord Crawford is wrong when he says that my Amendment would prevent the Royal Institute of British Architects holding an examination, and I think he is wrong about standardisation.


Why wrong?


Because of the provision in paragraph (b) of my Amendment, which says: that he is a person who has gained a diploma in architecture from any university in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, or from a school of architecture recognised as such by the Council. That does not make for standardisation. I am perfectly willing to withdraw this Amendment now if ray noble friend will come and have a conference with those who asked me to move this Amendment. I think that is a fair offer—




—because we might be able to come to terms.


No case has been made for excluding the Royal Institute of British Architects from those who are entitled to conduct examinations. No case has been made to show that the existing schools and universities are unfair in the matter of fees to the children of parents in humble circumstances. No case has been made to show that a national examination would be preferable to the great variety of examinations already held. Really in those circumstances I do not see that there is very much on which we ought to confer.


Though I am going to withdraw the Amendment now, I cannot undertake that I shall not bring it up again on Report. With regard to what was said by my noble friend Lord Home, I do protest that we are not bound by any agreed measure.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Date of application for registration.

2.—(1) Notwithstanding anything in the principal Act, a person shall, on application made to the Council in the prescribed manner after the passing of this Act and before the first day of August, nineteen hundred and forty, and on payment of the prescribed fee, be entitled to be registered under the principal Act, if he proves, to the satisfaction of the Council or, on an appeal under this section, to the satisfaction of the tribunal hearing the appeal, that at the date of the passing of this Act he was, or had been practising as an architect in the United Kingdom or in any part of the British Empire.

THE EARL OF CRAWFORD moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "any part of the British Empire" and insert "some other part of His Majesty's dominions." 'The noble Earl said: In my Bill I use the term "British Empire." I am sorry to say that that term is not known to the Legislature, and under duress I am obliged to move to substitute therefor "some other part of His Majesty's dominions." Under protest I beg to withdraw "the British Empire" and substitute the other words.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 38, leave out ("any part of the British Empire") and insert ("some other part of His Majesty's dominions").—(The Earl of Crawford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:


3. If any person contravenes this Act he shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds and to a further fine not exceeding ten pounds for every day on which the offence continues after conviction therefor: Provided …

VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME moved, after "contravenes," to insert "the provisions of." The noble Viscount said: I suppose my noble friend will accept this Amendment. It is merely a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 39, after ("contravenes") insert ("the provisions of").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)


Oh dear no. I think if the Lord Chancellor were to look at this Amendment he would say it was quite tautological and superfluous.


The words appear in most measures.


We'll toss for it on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.