§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ COLONEL DUNCAN (Finsbury, Holborn)
said, the object of the Bill, the second reading of which he was about to move, was very simple. There was nothing at present to prevent a man calling himself an architect, surveyor, or engineer; while the public had no means whatever which would enable them to distinguish between those who were competent and qualified persons and those who were not. The promoters of the Bill desired to afford facility for distinguishing between men who had been trained to the profession of architects, civil engineers, and surveyors, and those who had not received such training. There were many difficulties to be encountered in effecting this—in the first place, there were the rights of many professional men which had to be considered; and, secondly, there was the 1553 very strong opposition which any new measure had to encounter. If he could put before the House the numerous objections to the Bill which had reached him, it would be found that they all answered one another. He had received letters telling him that the Bill was for the purpose of making architecture, engineering, and surveying close corporations; others said that its object was to make those professions open to the most inefficient practitioners. Most of the objections to the provisions of the Bill were matters which could be considered and met in Committee. There were eminent Bodies in the country which were fitted for conducting, under the Privy Council, an examination into the capabilities of persons for these professions, but at present there was no compulsory power in those Bodies. This power the Bill proposed to give them. At the present time there were many sanitary questions to be dealt with, but those questions could not be treated by ignorant men. The Legislature had taken care, by many enactments, that medical examinations should take place, and if other classes of professional men were compelled to be registered, he did not see why that rule should not be applied to those who belonged to the professions which were the subject of this Bill. He found that a sentimental objection was urged against the proposal—namely, that architecture was a mystic art, and that the ability of a man in that department could not be tested. But the same objection might be urged in the case of medical men. It could not be denied that a large amount of useful knowledge would be obtained by the proposed examinations, and that the public would be gainers in future by securing the safety which would result from those examinations. The desire of those who promoted this measure was simply the elevation of these professions and the protection of the public. He would conclude by moving the second reading.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Colonel Duncan.)
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
said, as a member of the Medical Profession, he had had some experience of registration in that profession, and he would ask the House not 1554 to come to any premature decision upon the Bill. There was no kind of comparison between the Bodies with respect to which the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Duncan) had sought to establish an analogy. In the case of the Medical Profession, they had a homogeneous body developing itself until the time was ripe for the practitioners to be grouped together. The professions dealt with in the Bill appeared to him to be heterogeneous, and he was not prepared to see all those Bodies grouped in one Bill in order to establish an association of architects, engineers, and surveyors. He agreed that some steps should be taken for making architects more acquainted with sanitary matters, but he did not think that the Bill offered adequate means of arriving at that desirable end. He, therefore, urged the House to consider the matter further before agreeing to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
said, he joined the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken in opposing this Bill. He objected to placing these three Professions on the same footing as the Medical Profession. At present, it was open to anybody who had talent and skill to practice in those Professions without having the opportunity of doing any serious harm. The employment given to the three Professions came, as a rule, from boards and business corporations, who knew their interest well enough to get the best men to do the work. It was only natural and necessary that precautions should be taken in the case of the Medical Profession, to the members of which men's lives were entrusted, and accordingly the public were entitled to every security that Universities and educating Bodies could afford, by ensuring that the members of the Profession should practice with efficiency and skill; but in the case of engineers, surveyors, and architects, the matter was entirely different. The institutes of civil engineers, surveyors, and architects were entirely against the Bill. They considered it a most invidious and entirely unnecessary measure. For those reasons, he hoped that the Division would be taken at once, and that the Motion for the second reading would be promptly defeated.
§ MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)
said, he rose to support the Bill for the very reason which had induced his hon. 1555 Friend (Mr. Gill) to oppose it. His hon. Friend seemed to think that this Bill was put forward in an exclusive sense, but he (Mr. Murphy) considered it rather an enfranchising Bill than otherwise. Its only opponents were the members of three very exclusive and select Bodies, who had their head quarters in London. There were, however, a great many admirable associations in other parts of the country, and in Dublin there was the Society of Engineers and Architects, who were in favour of the Bill. No doubt the London societies had great weight all the world over; but, as he had said, they were very exclusive, and it was to put an end to those close boroughs that the Bill was designed. He hoped the House would assent to the second reading, and if it were thought desirable, he would, for his part, be willing that, in Committee, the Bill should be made permissive.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, that Clause 21 provided that after the 1st of January, 1889, no person should be entitled to take the name of architect, civil engineer, or surveyor unless he had registered under this Act. Now, that seemed to him to be introducing a proposition of the gravest kind, and he had not heard any adequate reason that evening in support of the measure, which must press harshly and severely upon a large class of persons. He thought also they should have the view of the Government on this subject, and perhaps the best course, under the circumstances, would be that the Debate should be adjourned.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
said, he thought that anybody acquainted with the Professions intended to come within the scope of this Bill must feel that there was no real necessity for the measure, which, while it imposed restrictions on those who practised in the Professions, did not meet the evils of which the hon. and gallant Member had complained. He would only speak for the Society of Civil Engineers, and he asked the House to consider what had been the result of the works carried out by them during the last 50 years. No one would say that there had been any defects in the work which the civil engineers had performed during that period, or that the Profession had not been practised in a way satisfactory to the 1556 country. They had spent a large sum of money in the promotion of the science of engineering, and he thought it was a monstrous thing to say that men who were members of that body should not be allowed to practise unless they registered. Then, again, no doubt there were various views with regard to architecture; but in this case also, during the last 50 years, the practice of architecture had enormously improved, and he submitted that those who supported the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Duncan) should show where was the necessity for this Bill, in what respect the Profession had failed, and how it was proposed to establish the examining Body, with regard to which there were no particulars or details given. Again, hon. Members knew perfectly well that during the last 13 or 14 years examinations were held for the purpose of testing surveyors and granting diplomas and certificates and for proficiency in sanitary science and such matters as were necessary for those who practised that profession. And, again, he said that if the Bill was to be passed, they would require some explanation from the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his Supporters as to the parts of the country where these examinations would be required. The House would understand that, having taken a great interest in these Professions for many years, he (Sir Richard Webster) would be the first to advocate that there should be efficiency in architecture, surveying, and engineering; but having had a large acquaintance with members of the Professions concerned, having carefully considered the Bill, and not being influenced by anything except his own knowledge, he thought that this was a measure which the House ought not to pass without it was fully explained in what manner the evils alluded to were intended to be met.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said, his experience was rather a sad one in this particular—namely, that some years ago he had advertised for an engineer at a salary of £300, and failed to hear of one who was sufficiently familiar with logarithms to calculate the proper weight for a fly-wheel. He fully sympathized with the object of the Bill introduced by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but, nevertheless, could not support it, for the reason that, as it 1557 seemed to him, there was no guarantee in it for a thoroughly sound education, nor did the council which was to confer degrees appear to be properly constituted. He trusted, however, that hon. Members who had thought over the Bill would consider that better education for members of these Professions was very difficult to obtain in England, and he thought it a disgrace to the country that that should be so.
§ MR. GILES (Southampton)
said, he would appeal to the Members of the House as to whether the engineers who had carried out tremendous works in all parts of the world should be placed in the position contemplated by the Bill. He failed to see why the 5,530 members of that Profession should be so treated, and he would point out that although the Bill was nominally for the protection of the public against incompetency, its object was very different. If hon. Members would look at Schedule A, it would be seen that the members of 23 societies were to be pitchforked into the Professions. The three leading Institutes of Engineers, Architects, and Surveyors had petitioned against the Bill. He was bound to say that its promoters were particularly patronizing, for they said that the Charter of the Institute of Engineers, now some 60 years old, was to be confirmed by them. The members of the Institute were very much obliged to them for this consideration; but they did not want the irresponsible authors of the Bill to confirm this Charter. He considered that engineers had done more than any other Profession to increase the civilization of the world. To what had been done in railways, steamships, electricity, and other branches of engineering, the great names of Stephenson, Brunel, Armstrong, and Siemens testified, and their works were the monuments of their greatness. The members of these Professions claimed higher ground than that assigned to them by the promoters of the Bill; and, if for no other reason, he trusted the House would reject the Bill.
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
said, on behalf of the body of architects he ventured to think that a more uncalled-for measure than the present could not well be conceived. While he recognized his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Duncan) as a great authority upon guns of all descriptions, he could 1558 not consider him an equal authority on the particular subject with which he had associated his name. He was aware that there was a feeling abroad that the architect of the present day was not up to the requirements necessary with respect to the sanitation of houses; but he bogged to point out that, in that matter, it was not so much the architects who were at fault as the jerrybuilders, and that if the Bill were passed to-morrow, they would still have to guard against the latter. As was well known, the Royal Institute of Architects and the Architectural Association had long held the foremost place in the estimation of the profession and of the public; but a third society had been created within the last few years, and it had occurred to that Society that some ready means should be found for making it compulsory that architects should be registered. The Bill would not, in his opinion, effect any practical advance in the Profession of architecture. It was proposed that all the members of the various Societies should be entitled to be registered; and when he said that some of those Societies were, so to speak, of mushroom growth, the House would be able to come to a conclusion as to the merits of the members of those Societies in regard to the privilege which this Bill proposed to give them. If it were necessary to have a controlling body over the education of those who would practise the Profession in future, they should call to their aid a Society respectable as to its ago and reputation, which possessed a Royal Charter, and which numbered amongst its members some of the leading architects of the day, rather than place themselves in the hands of a Society established only three years ago. If, then, it was unnecessary that such a Bill should be passed with regard to the Profession of Architecture, it was nothing short of an impertinence to seek to control the Profession of Civil Engineers by this Bill. He therefore hoped that the House would say there should be no legislation in this direction, and that the Bill would be unanimously rejected.
§ MR. BEADEL (Essex, Chelmsford)
said, as he had the honour to be President of the Surveyors' Institution, he wished to say a few words on this Motion. The provisions of the Bill constituted an attack upon the influence fur good which the Surveyors' Institution, 1559 incorporated by Royal Charter, exercised. The Bill was also an attack upon the Royal Society of Engineers and the Royal Society of British Architects. He thought the House would be careful in allowing a Bill to pass the second reading the purport of which was to do that which his hon. and gallant Friend, in his own Profession, would be the very last to countenance—namely, to allow those who had not gone through the necessary ordeal of passing through those Institutions for the purpose of getting the stamp of ability placed upon them, to arrive at a position which would enable them to compete with those who had passed that ordeal to place a brass plate upon their doors and style themselves engineers, architects, and surveyors. If such a measure were proposed in the case of the Army, no one would use more influence than his hon. and gallant Friend to prevent it becoming law. When it was considered that the members of the three Institutions attacked numbered rather more than 10,000, and that, as he was advised, pressure had been put upon many persons to induce them to sign the Petitions which had been presented to the House, he thought hon. Members would hesitate to allow the Bill to be read a second time. The House should bear in mind that to pass the Bill would be to throw odium upon institutions which had stood the test of time. If it were the pleasure of the House, there would be no difficulty whatever in having registration; but did any Member suppose that by giving a man the opportunity of describing himself upon his brass plate as a registered practitioner he would be capable of holding a position in any one of the three Societies in question? Or would anyone who had a house to build, or a large work to execute, think the brass plate a sufficient reason for employing the man who displayed it as his surveyor? Every prudent person ascertained the qualifications of the medical man he was going to consult; and those who opposed this Bill asked that the stamp of ability should not be placed on those who had not shown that they were entitled to it by the exercise of industry and by having passed the necessary ordeal, as was the case with the members of the Institution which he represented. He could not believe that the House would sanc- 1560 tion the principle of the Bill; and, for the reasons stated, he trusted that the Motion for its second reading would not be agreed to.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
said, that the Bill was drawn exactly according to the Act which he had the honour of passing through the House in relation to the Medical Profession when the Liberals were last in power. But the House should recollect the circumstances under which that Bill was passed. The Medical Profession was a homogeneous Profession, so far as regarded the subjects which it had to undertake. It was not easy to reform the Medical Profession; and it was only after great care and consultation with all the examining Bodies and the practitioners that he was able to get sufficient support to pass such an Act. The Bill now before the House was framed on exactly the same principle—that was to say, there were certain qualified Bodies who were to go upon the general council. Then there were to be certain representative members elected for the three parts of the Kingdom. But who were the constituents in this case? There were no regularly qualified and registered people who could become electors at the present moment. They were to be constituted by the Bill. In the case of the Medical Profession the practitioners had been registered for many years, and they could properly form a constituency. But here it was proposed by the Bill to create a constituency, and a constituency, too, which was very unwilling to be created. The architects and engineers and surveyors were not at present identical; and the House could not in justice pass a Bill which met with so much opposition as this Bill did, and which was not founded upon the same conditions which enabled the House to pass the Bill relating to the Medical Profession.
§ COLONEL DUNCAN
said, he had listened to all that had been said by hon. Members against the Bill, but he could not help feeling that a good deal had been gained by drawing public attention to the subject.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I would point out that the hon. and gallant Member has no right of reply on an Order of the Day.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill withdrawn.