RIBA president Paul Hyett has demanded the end of the Architects Registration Board (ARB), citing 'ever-increasing bureaucracy' and recent hikes in minimum Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) cover.
Hyett said the profession would be 'better off ' without the regulator, and that the RIBA would be in an improved position to serve the interests of architects without ARB interference.
And he hit out at the ARB board's decision in August not to give its backing to a special lower level of cover for architects on very low wages (AJ 5.9.02).
Hyett told the AJ that the ARB board's decision not to approve the new lower rating had caused 'widespread frustration among RIBA members', especially when the main justification for the decision was that the change was not worth the bureaucratic effort.
'I cannot believe that they think an administrative reason for failing to adopt the new PII regulation is acceptable, ' Hyett stressed. 'The whole PII issue has been mishandled. In truth, I would rather there wasn't an ARB at all.'
And he attacked the way the ARB has developed since its inception. 'I think the way that regulation has been handled by the ARB since it came into being is extraordinary. They seem intent on ever-increasing bureaucracy in the profession, ' he said.
These problems have triggered a rethink among those who promoted the idea of the ARB to the government in the late '90s, he said. 'Most who supported the continuation of the protection of title when the ARB was started would now choose to rethink that decision.
'Neither the quantity surveyors nor the engineers have a regulatory body and they are fine without one. Many would say the RIBA could serve the interests of the profession far better without the interference, 'Hyett added.
However, ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan rubbished the presidential attack. 'I do not understand why he says that we have increased bureaucracy. Since we came into being we have neither added regulation nor changed the code of conduct, ' he said.
'Almost the entire architectural population has complied with the PII regulations. I believe that most of them understand that it is essential, ' Vaughan added.
And he stressed that there is widespread support in the profession for the role of the ARB. 'I really do not understand who Hyett is talking for.
It must be the very small group who still believe we are a trade body. We are not, we are a statutory regulator.
'The RIBA needs to understand that the protection of title is a major benefit for architects and the overwhelming majority want it to remain, ' Vaughan added.