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The ARB's doing its job despite pasts' blasts

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A trio of RIBA past presidents tell us what the government intended when it introduced the new Registration Act (Letters, AJ 11.11.04), but I can't see where they think everything has gone so wrong. Can't they remember the old ARCUK, with its debating chamber full of besuited expense accounters?

It strikes me, as I scan down the excerpts from Hansard that the past presidents give us, that the ARB is fulfilling its role: it is a minimalist body; it has consequently reduced costs; the board is constrained to keep to the core functions, and does not extend itself to cover financial or insurance matters; and the RIBA continues its key role in running visiting boards in education. So what's the problem?

And what's all this nonsense about 'democracy', a muchmaligned word these days? The ARB's role extends beyond representing the profession - its purpose is to protect the consumer. The board derives its democratic foundation through its constitutional links with consumer bodies, as well as the Privy Council As an educator, and an active contributor to the work of the ARB and the RIBA in educational matters, I have to declare that I am impressed by the professionalism of the board. And what's more, if I was outside architecture looking in, I would be convinced that, in terms of the general good, things are a lot better now than when those past presidents ran the show.

Thom Gorst, past professor, Bath

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