§ Lord Rugby
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether, in the light of the recent Statement on optician services by the Secretary of State for Social Services, they will now take steps to require that the General Optical Council no longer apply the words "infamous behaviour" to those opticians who advertise their prices and services; and to ensure that opticians who are currently disqualified on such grounds have their livelihood fully restored to them.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Glenarthur)
The Opticians Act 1958 gives the General Optical Council the power both to make rules prohibiting or regulating the use of means of publicity to their practices, and to enforce those rules. The Bill introduced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Services in another place on 2nd December seeks the power to enable the Privy Council to amend rules on this subject submitted for approval or to vary or revoke rules already approved. It is the Government's intention to use these powers, if necessary, to allow greater freedom by opticians to advertise their prices and their services. It will, however, remain the duty of opticians to abide by whatever rules are in force and for the General Optical Council to enforce those rules. It is not appropriate for me to comment on the way in which the General Optical Council has been carrying out its statutory duty to administer the rules as they stand at the moment.