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Maurice McCarthy's letter (AJ 26.04.07), while a little disjointed, was in some respects rather interesting and, in others, simply inaccurate.

I do not wish to comment on the lawfulness of the use of ARB as an affix. However, beginning with Mexico, because of what will be a growing tide of bilateral and plurilateral Free Trade Agreements between the EU and other nations, and the necessary Mutual Recognition Agreements within them for architectural services, it would be highly unlikely that any future Conservative government would jeopardise earnings for the nation from trade in architectural services - particularly since a mutual statutory regulatory regime is a fundamental requirement of such agreements. This is one reason why countries such as Ireland who have not had registration have rushed to get it.

As such, the ARB with all its blemishes, or something very like it, will remain for very good trade reasons. However, perhaps it is better to be safe and vote Labour when the time comes!

The role of the RIBA is growing in carefully targeted political ambitions, not only here but also in the EU. To function more effectively, more money is needed, not less, and there is a strong argument for subscriptions to rise.

While the RIBA has had a recent high-profile, ultra-right presidential candidate who may well have supported the notion of a 'president for life', the institute is a valuable democracy, however imperfect. In recent years we have been blessed with an excellent crop of presidents and with councils that have largely worked together as an integrated team. This will continue under the presidency of Sunand Prasad.

Where I do agree with McCarthy is in his assertion that member involvement should be at branch level. I have always thought that the RIBA should be a bottom-up organisation, with a small RIBA council made up exclusively of regionally elected members who would also serve on regional councils.

It is indeed vital that the RIBA should lobby for legislative changes, but McCarthy's target is wrong in this instance. EU directives have a hierarchy of effectiveness and the directive to which he refers is subservient to the EU Qualifications Directive, shortly to be transposed into UK legislation. This will be the primary European law that affects architects and all other professions including surveyors. This legislation replaces the Architects Directive. Even the much-vaunted Services in the Internal Market Directive will be subservient in most respects.

I do agree with RIBA policy in relation to the ARB, but it must not become a neurosis that deects us from much more important issues.

John Wright, Godalming

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