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Departed ARB registrar tried to adhere to Act

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I must respond to the editorial by Paul Finch (aj 26.8.99) concerning the departure of the arb registrar Andrew Finch (no relation). It is kind of him to advise us of his holiday in the heat of the Greek islands, at a time when most architects struggle to keep the bulls from blocking the door to our offices.

He seems to criticise the registrar for his belief in the letter, rather than the spirit, of the law. I would suggest the registrar should have been praised for this, yet even the board of the arb would seem to have turned on him. Mr Finch and his riba friends would have exploited any reliance upon the spirit of the law to their own ends, and that is not what Parliament intended with the new Act. Neither is Finch correct in his view that the arb exists to protect the public against the designs of architects - has he read the Act?

The fundamental role played by the riba in relation to education is 'missing' from my copy of the Act too - what the Act does state is that Parliament places the sole responsibility for validating schools of architecture in the uk with the arb - changing the previous riba system, because Parliament did not like what the institute was doing.

The editorial suggests that the fee increases were 'imperious' - when viewed against the riba fee, the board's fee is quite small: readers will be all too aware that the law requires registration with the arb, whereas the massive fee required to be a member of the riba is voluntary - also, when one views the registration board's fee against that charged by other regulators, the arb fee is again, quite small.

Finch suggests that the board's plans to acquire new offices are 'grandiose' - not when you compare the Hallam Street offices of the arb to the 'Palace of Portland Place', base of the riba.

The conduct code mentioned simply placed architects into the professional area, along with doctors, dentists etc. Finch would like architects to be held in similar regard, would he not?

And not Ron Baden Hellard again - this man broke the law and the High Court agreed with the registrar of the arb that this was the case and refused to allow an outright appeal - the limited appeal to the House of Lords didn't even get that far, as its members agreed with the registrar and the High Court and refused to hear any appeal. Why then does Finch think the actions of the arb 'vindictive'?

To close, I know that the registrar of the arb suggested open meetings, but the board re-fused - questions there for the riba members of the board, I would suggest.

Peter Saunders, London SW7

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