HL Deb 24 March 1983 vol 440 c1334WA
Lord Rugby

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will distinguish between the functions and qualifications of ophthalmic and those of dispensing opticians and by which section of the Opticians Act 1958 dispensing opticians are entitled to protection and allowed to make profits.

Lord Trefgarne

Ophthalmic opticians are qualified to carry out tests of sight and to fit and supply optical appliances; dispensing opticians are qualified to fit and supply optical appliances but not to test sight. The General Optical Council set up under the Opticians Act 1958 has the power to approve as the basis for registration as an ophthalmic or dispensing optician any qualifications which appear to the council to be granted to candidates who reach such a standard of proficiency at a qualifying examination as to secure to them adequate knowledge and skill for the practice of their respective professions.

Section 21 of the Opticians Act 1958 restricts the sale and supply of optical appliances to opticians registered with the General Opticial Council and medical practitioners registered with the General Medical Council. The purpose of this legislation is to protect the public, not opticians. The Government are currently considering the conclusions of the report by the Office of Fair Trading Opticians and Competition concerning the effect of this provision on competition. No statutory power is required to sell optical appliances at a profit.