Size doesn't bother me as much as it does Dr Jon Levett (AJ 20.1.05), or so it appears from the response to my 'lengthy' letter. His is certainly 'short' (-ish), but it is also, in my opinion, deficient. And it only serves to emphasise what I described in my letter as the 'weakness of the act'.
Those who may think that such correspondence stems from a negative, counter-productive dispute over petty bureaucratic details at a time when we should be looking to the future should understand that what is at issue is precisely the future well-being of what I regard, not being part of it, as the greatest of the civilising professions at a time when the British public is increasingly on its side. Will it be dynamic, free, internationally competitive, liberal, self-regulating, serving society in a voluntarily responsible way, open as possible to changing times; or will it be state-regulated, possibly even directed, and subject to increasingly pettifogging, ossifying, over-specific, anti-democratic constraints?
Levett states that 'the statutory basis of the ARB's examination is clearly set out in Section 4 of the Architects' Act 1997', which he does not, however, quote. The former registration body's task was the recognition of examinations; quite deliberately, this was changed to the ARB's role of prescribing qualifications (not courses, curricula, examinations) - quite different.
Sloppily, the act does not define a process for treating qualifications from outside the EU, but refers solely to those applying for registration who claim 'a standard of competence which? is equivalent' to prescribed qualifications - in this context only, and again confusingly worded, it provides that the board 'may require' such a person 'to pass a prescribed examination'. It does not indicate that the board should conduct or set such an examination: common sense, referring to the board's principal mandate, would suggest a referral of such individuals to one of the many UK examinations that lead to prescribed qualifications.
Disingenuously, in this context, Levett asks if I suggest that those with RIBA-validated qualifications should be subject to a less rigorous process. What I actually wrote was that such persons 'should be entitled to a less burdensome and costly process'.
I think that anyone of average intelligence could make the common-sense interpretation of this: can one justify charging almost £1,000 in a case where an RIBA visiting board report and the direct testimony of board members is available?
Levett states that the 'ARB is assessing the work presented by candidates for examination? not evaluating their qualification'.
Precisely my point.
Peter Gibbs-Kennet, Bisley, Gloucestershire