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Every so often, the AJ resolves to stop writing about the ARB on the grounds that it's boring for them, it's boring for us and it's probably boring for you too. This, in itself, is not quite as damning as it sounds. Some things, after all, are meant to be boring. The anomaly is that the ARB obstinately refuses to be quite as boring as it should be.

In a profession more than ordinarily obsessed with innovation, convoluted thought processes and unfettered creative flair, there is a genuine respect for the art of maintaining administrative order and the competent execution of repetitive tasks. Support for protection of title, the ARB's fundamental raison d'être, is overwhelming.

(This oft-quoted truism in only marginally undermined by the fact that the profession which gets canvassed for its opinions is, by de'nition, composed of those who currently enjoy the title of architect and thus have most to gain from protecting the status quo).

Architects want somebody to keep and monitor a list. They are happy for the ARB to carry out its self-professed task of 'protecting the consumer and safeguarding the reputation of architects' so long as this duty is carried out with thoroughness, integrity and competence, and is defined in its narrowest sense. Like acting, you know the job's being done as well as it should be if you barely register that it's being done at all.

All bureaucracies face the prospect of their original purpose being superseded by an irresistible quest for growth. With every move to increase its in'uence, the ARB has gradually undermined its mandate and its status among the profession it serves. The best result in the forthcoming elections would be a resounding victory for the ARB Reform Group; the rapid and courageous rationalisation of the ARB's function and powers; and more room in the AJ for more interesting matters than the ARB.

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