HL Deb 31 May 1938 vol 109 cc816-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the chief operative words of this Bill are these: 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. There follow certain exceptions and an extension to which I will draw your Lordships' attention in a moment. The main part of this Bill was passed unanimously by your Lordships last year, but it failed to pass in another place. This Session the Bill was introduced elsewhere, and has now reached your Lordships after having been amended and extended.

In substance, tae term "registered architect" laid down in the parent Act of 1931, applying to persons qualified to be architects under that Act, is replaced by the simple word "architect" under this Bill. There are certain exceptions. In the first place, there are three architects with what I might call a good-will interest in the word "architect"—namely, naval architect, landscape architect and golf course architect. Each of these categories of varying interest is excluded front this Bill and will continue to be called naval or golf or landscape architect, as the case may be. Secondly, there is a wider exception, and that applies to four categories mentioned at the top of page 2, members of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Surveyors' Institution and the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers. In each case where a member of one of these bodies now holds in the service of a local authority an office making him responsible for the management and control of the architectural work of that local authority, he will be entitled to be called architect, provided, as laid down in line to onwards, that one of the local authority's servants engaged under him for the purpose of architectural work is a person registered under the principal Act. Those are the seven groups of exceptions.

The second portion of the Bill, beginning with Clause 2, your Lordships will see deals with the date of the application for registration. It allows a period of two years during which any person practising as an architect can make up his mind what he wishes to do under the Act, and it establishes a tribunal which will be a court of appeal to which any aggrieved person who thinks he has not been properly treated under the Act is entitled to appeal. It consists of seven persons, one nominated by the Lord Chancellor, a second by the Minister of Health, a third by the Department of Health for Scotland, a fourth by the President of the Law Society, a fifth by the Chairman of the General Council of Solicitors in Scotland, and two others by the authorities of Northern Ireland to which this Bill will or can be applied under a special provision in the parent Act. That tribunal is an impartial body. No member of the Architects' Registration Council is entitled as such as serve upon it and it is provided that its decision shall be final and conclusive. The rest of the proposals are nominal and deal with the question of application. I think that the Bill has removed any source of grievance or danger to persons who may think their interests are aggrieved by the establishment of this well defined and strong tribunal. The Bill has passed through the House of Commons by immense majorities and I hope your Lordships will give it a favourable reception. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a(The Earl of Crawford.)


My Lords, I rise to support the Second Reading of this Bill. The Bill which was formerly in controversy is now agreed in principle. At the present time any person, however uneducated or illiterate, may designate himself as architect and there have been cases where persons wholly unqualified to act as architects have misled the public. I remember one case in particular which came under my own notice. A small tradesman had retired from business and thought he would like to build a cottage in the country. He consulted a person whom he saw described on the door-plate as an architect in a small country town. So-called plans were prepared and submitted to the local authority and were rejected on the ground that they failed to comply almost entirely with the local by-laws. The result was that the unfortunate man had to pay a bill of some £25 in respect of fees for those plans. That sort of thing is not uncommon. I venture to think that when we have a measure of this kind on the Statute Book the public will be properly safeguarded.

The great movement in respect of the training of young men and women for the profession of architect has made very noticeable advance in recent years. Candidates for examination by the various examining bodies set up under the parent Act come from all classes of the community. At one time the idea was that to receive a diploma as architect a young man must be the son of a person of some means. That is not the case now, owing to the enlightened policy of the education authorities and technical schools. We find now that the fees charged for instruction are moderate and that year by year scholarships for deserving and competent candidates are being extended. The result is that any lad with brains can become a properly qualified architect with a diploma without any financial burden upon his parents. The classes for the training of young men of that kind are so arranged that the student can do practical work during the day and during the evening can attend classes for theoretical instruction. Students who happen to be some distance away from technical schools can prepare themselves by a correspondence course.

The fees charged at these schools are low. To take Birmingham, for example, the fee is 7s. 6d. or £1 a year according to age. At Aberdeen it is £1 a year; at Sheffield it is £1 1s.; at Cardiff £1 1s.; and at the Northern Polytechnic in London 18s. up to the age of twenty-one and 30s. over that age. The highest fee is at London University School, where it is six guineas. In addition scholarships are provided. The Registration Council award a certain number, which is limited because their funds are restricted, but in course of time these scholarships will become more abundant. Scholarships are also granted by, for example, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, London and many other places, so that it is possible for any young man or woman, however humble, to acquire the proper training and submit themselves for examination in the theory and practice of architecture. Of course, I admit that other schools are open to people who choose to attend them, such as schools of art, and if anyone wishes to have a more expensive education, he can obtain it. We have now a body of many young men who have worked hard and received their diploma in architecture. They are an asset to the State, and I venture to submit, as the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, said, that the public should not be confused in their mind between qualified architects and persons who have no qualification whatever. The Bill is straightforward and in the right direction, and will not only add to the dignity of the profession of an architect, but will also afford protection to the public.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.