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Pringle backs Roche in parental rate spat

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RIBA president elect Jack Pringle and deputy chief executive Baz Dickson have locked horns over radical proposals to grant free membership to architects on parental leave.

The motion, raised by councillor Chris Roche, is to be debated at next month's council meeting but has already triggered fierce division within the RIBA.

Dickson believes new parents on maternity and adoption leave should at least pay the hardship subscription rate - currently £64 per year - and has vowed to oppose the motion. He believes fathers should receive no discount.

Dickson said: 'New parents get money from the state and are not broke. It is not unreasonable to expect them to make a contribution to membership.

It is improper for members to have to subsidise new parents. I am not clear how practicable it would be for the RIBA to administer subscription reductions.' Sticking to his election promise to make practices 'family friendly', Pringle has defied Dickson by throwing his support behind a membership amnesty for architects on parental leave. Furthermore, he said he wanted an assurance that parents on statutory leave who let memberships lapse would not face penalties for non-payment when returning to work.

'The motion is a significant step towards making architecture family friendly and is therefore central to my agenda, ' Pringle said. 'We are not a profession that retains enough women so I will definitely give Roche my support.'

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