HC Deb 08 July 1996 vol 281 cc107-8
Mr. Clappison

I beg to move amendment No. 63, in page 69, line 1, after `(b)' insert 'serious'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 64 to 71.

Mr. Clappison

The amendment deals with disciplinary procedures for architects. The Bill creates the new offence of professional incompetence and we believe that it is appropriate to add the word "serious" because we wish to protect the profession from trivial and vexatious allegations. We know that the profession is concerned about this. We believe that the amendment will afford that protection and, at the same time, not undermine the benefit of increased consumer protection. We believe that the word "serious" fits the bill.

Mr. Vaz

I am delighted that the Government have accepted the spirit, if not the letter, of the amendments that were put forward in Committee. Although the Minister has not gone all the way and accepted both the words that we wished to insert, he has gone half way, and we are happy to accept the amendment.

Sir Sydney Chapman

I declare a possible interest: I am a registered and chartered architect, but I have not practised for years and, therefore, I have no financial interest. I have no objection to Government amendment No. 63 or to the allied amendments. However, as I said in Committee, if an allegation is made against a member of the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom or the Royal Institute of British Architects, a prima facie case has to be established before the case is taken forward—in other words, the allegation is investigated. At that stage, the committee would decide that there was no case to answer, unless there was a serious case of professional incompetence. The word "serious" will be added to the Bill, but there will be arguments about what it means. I believe that there is no need for the amendment, but I will go along with it as we seek consensus on this matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 64, in page 69, line 12, after 'or' insert 'serious'.

No. 65, in page 69, line 15, after 'or' insert 'serious'.

No. 66, in page 69, line 28, at end insert 'serious'.

No. 67, in page 69, line 36, at end insert 'serious'.

No. 68, in page 70, line 7, after 'of insert 'serious'.

No. 69, in page 70, line 15, at end insert `serious'.—[Mr. Brandreth.]

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