Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Eighth Report


Memorandum by the Privy Council Office

Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Practitioners (Registration) (Amendment)
Regulations Order of Council 2000 (S.I. 2000/3282)

1. The Joint Committee has asked for a Memorandum explaining the reasons for the substantial increases in the fees specified as items 1 (registration fee), 2(i) (retention fee) and 5 (temporary registration fee) in the Table of Fees.

2. Following a review of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' reserves in 2000 the Treasurer of the RCVS concluded that they were too low to provide the College with adequate protection against risks which might arise in the future. In previous years a more optimistic view has been taken of the College's finances with fee increases below the rate of inflation, and with no increase in some years. This has meant that there have been only small surpluses of income over expenditure available to add to the reserves.

3. The College also foresees increased pressure on resources as a result of:

  • complaints against veterinary surgeons increasing requiring thorough investigation in order to maintain public confidence;

  • more cases will be brought before the Disciplinary Committee. These are likely to be robustly defended with assistance from the Veterinary Defence Society, and the possibility of cases going to appeal. Should the plaintiff be successful costs may be awarded against the College;

  • decisions by the College increasingly may be subject to judicial review. The EU Recognition Directive now provides for recognition of third country qualifications and specifically provides for recourse to the courts, which is likely to be by judicial review;

  • the Government proposes to introduce changes to the Veterinary Surgeons Act. This will require an input from the RCVS, as will reviews of issues of relevance to the College, such as the OFT reviews of medicines pricing and competition within the professions;

  • the need for the College to be more open and transparent with its members and the general public will require the review of existing procedures, and devoting more resources to improving communications.

4. The College must be in a position to respond to all these issues, and cannot take the risk of being unable to properly discharge its statutory responsibilities for lack of resources. The future demand on resources cannot be precisely quantified at this stage but it would be prudent for the College to be prepared for the worst scenario.

5. Finally the College has taken the conscious decision that the necessary increases in fees should be borne by those members of the College who are still active in the profession.

6 February 2001

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