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Disappointed at lack of a direct request

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It is disappointing that Robin Vaughan did not raise his corrections with me directly, for had he done so he would have saved your readers from being misinformed (Letters, AJ 17.6.04) The Statutory Instrument revising the composition of the ARB's professional conduct committee was brought in by the government on the fast track after many months of inactivity.

I am no expert in parliamentary procedure, but my MP, Evan Harris, used the words, 'unseemly haste' when he told me of his surprise that this procedure was used for what should have been unhurried and carefully considered business.

The matter in question, by those who raised the Early Day Motion, was the wisdom of retaining members of the board on the PCC after its enlargement. They who firstly make policies and then make judgements on them are always open to the accusation that they may judge not by what they said but by what they intended to say.

The separation of the juridical function from the policy making is the essential protection against this injustice, long recognised in the maxim that nobody may judge in his own cause.

In deference to this legal principle, both the General Medical and the General Dental Councils have recently built a wall between their policy-making councils and their PCCs.

This and other human rights issues were discussed by the ARB on 23 September last year, and in consequence the motion to accept the changes was lost 4:3.

The defeat was secured by the chairman who, perhaps drawing on his expertise as a judge, placed his casting vote in favour of retaining the status quo.

Vaughan may be able to explain how this was 'an endorsement' of the change, but that level of ingenuity is beyond me.

Ian Salisbury Oxford

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