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Lord Haskel: My Lords, as I explained a little while ago in speaking to the amendment of my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington, who is not in his place, the Government consider that it is right to confine the list in Schedule 4 to those professional services which are exempted from the Restrictive Trade Practices Act by Schedule 1 to that Act. Your Lordships will not therefore be surprised to learn that the Government do not agree that notaries public should be added to the list in Schedule 4 to the Bill.

In the case of notaries, there are however two additional reasons why it would be inappropriate to add them to the list. First, there is a very substantial overlap between the profession of solicitors and that of notaries. As noble Lords will observe, solicitors are already included in the list, and it therefore seems to us to be somewhat supernumerary to add notaries. I recognise that that is an argument that can be deployed in support

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of either side. However, my second point reinforces the case for saying that not only would the addition of notaries to the list be redundant; it would also be inappropriate.

The Chapter I prohibition bites on agreements between undertakings, decisions between associations of undertakings and concerted practices. It is not concerned with requirements imposed under statute, which is the basis of the regulation of notaries. Clearly, there is no need to exclude something which does not apply in the first place. That is not necessarily the case for all of the rules of the professions currently listed in Schedule 4 to the Bill. In the light of those points, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

The noble Lord commented about the position in Scotland. I am not sure whether it is appropriate to discuss that at this stage. We shall be debating later the effect of the Bill in Scotland. It may well be that Scottish notaries could be debated then.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I had anticipated that he would advance that line of argument. This Bill does not follow precisely the terms of Schedule 1 to the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976. For example, Schedule 1 to the 1976 Act provides that legal services are restricted to the services of barristers, advocates, or solicitors in their capacity as such. The phrase "in their capacity as such" is omitted from the Competition Bill and as a result may produce a different outcome. Perhaps the Competition Bill envisages that the professional services of barristers and solicitors should not be restricted to those individuals acting in their capacity as such. For example, it might include insolvency practitioners or independent financial advisers. Surely, that is not a correct interpretation.

I should be grateful if the Minister would reconsider the matter before Third Reading. The omission of the notaries from the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 may have been an oversight. I shall reflect on the Minister's reply and if necessary return to the matter on Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree moved Manuscript Amendment No. 64A:

Page 50, leave out line 33 and insert--
("4. The services of ophthalmic medical practitioners, ophthalmic opticians (optometrists) and dispensing opticians other than (in each case) the sale or supply of optical appliances.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Schedule 4 as currently drafted will not do what the Bill intends. It is clear that the intention is to exclude the services of various professions from the provisions of the Bill. But if we leave the wording as it is in respect of ophthalmic services the law will affect a range of things which the authors of the Bill surely did not intend to affect.

In recent years, there have been enormous advances in the care and treatment of eyes. The clinical activities of optometrists go far wider than just sight testing. For instance, the fitting of contact lenses demands high levels of expertise. Currently, the law provides that only

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professionally qualified people can do that, but it is not the testing of sight and it will therefore not be covered by the Bill.

What about shared care, to use the current jargon? That system brings together GPs, ophthalmologists, other doctors and optometrists to monitor such things as the clinical progress of a patient suffering from glaucoma or perhaps diabetic retinopathy. That is an important service, but it is not the testing of eyes and it will not be covered by the Bill.

The Government appear to believe that the current wording linking the words "ophthalmic" and "the testing of sight" are sufficient to protect the activities of optometrists. However, the profession does not agree and I believe that in respect of such matters we should listen to the profession. It states that, as Schedule 4 stands, some of the professional and clinical activities of optometrists and dispensing opticians will be included and some excluded. If in future a court is asked to interpret the Competition Act it is likely to declare that Parliament decided to exclude some activities and to include others.

However, why should the optometrist's clinical monitoring of a patient suffering from glaucoma be subject to the rules on competition? That is not a commercial activity; it is essentially a clinical and professional activity. The Government propose to exclude professional activities from the scope of the Bill, so why will they not exclude the monitoring of glaucoma?

I do not seek more than the profession seeks--to exclude from the Bill commercial activities such as selling frames, glasses or contact lenses--but I want to ensure that all aspects of professional eye care are properly covered. That is not the case at the moment.

Will the Minister look at the matter again? I am sure that he shares my wish to have a clear law and a fair law and one which will not lead to a number of court cases. I beg to move.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, this amendment has been grouped with Amendment No. 65, as far as I understand it, unless the grouping has been changed, and I do not think it has, although that amendment has nothing to do with optometry.

I listened with great interest to what the noble Baroness, Lady Knight, said. She may remember me from a previous incarnation long ago in the House of Commons. We sit diagonally across the House from each other and I can scarcely see her from here. I am sure that if people hear that plea from the faint sighted, they may pay some attention to her amendment.

I turn to Amendment No. 65. I do not wish to add anything to the list which has been put in the Bill. It is always dangerous to add to lists because, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, used to tell us over and over again, the longer the list, the longer the list of people left off it. Therefore, a list was dangerous.

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However, I am more interested not in leaving something off the list or adding to it but dealing with the definitions with which the list is concerned. I am weary of raising the subject of engineering in this House, and no doubt noble Lords, such few as are here, are tired of hearing me doing it, apart from the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, who delights in it. But Whitehall can never get engineering right somehow. It has a hang-up or problem with it. As I understand it, there have been discussions between the Engineering Council and the Government but, as far as I can see, those discussions have not, as yet, been fruitful.

If one looks at paragraph 17 of Schedule 4 at the bottom of page 51, a list of a sort can be seen. Under the heading "Engineering", the Bill states:

    "The services of persons practising or employed as consultants in the field of ... (a) civil engineering".

That either leaves out or includes structural engineers. The structural engineers would not like to be left out; the civil engineers might be happy if they were. However, an accommodation should be arranged in that respect.

The Bill goes on to refer to mechanical, aeronautical and marine engineering and others. It then refers to, "mining, quarrying, soil analysis", and this is where I begin to become a little bit worried about Whitehall,

    "or other forms of mineralogy or geology".

We engineers admire mineralogists and geologists and we often depend upon them. But however admirable and dependable they are, they are not engineers. A geologist is not an engineer; he is a geologist. He is a scientist of some kind. He is not an engineer. He may impinge on engineering and engineering may depend upon him, but an engineer he most emphatically is not.

I move on to agronomy. I am sure that is very good. The Bill then mentions forestry. I am rather unhappy that my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe is not here because he is a great forester. However, my noble friend Lord Taylor, for all his goodness as a forester, is not an engineer. Foresters are not engineers. Let's pull ourselves together. The Bill then refers to "livestock rearing". I should have thought that livestock rearing had something to do with farming. Farmers are sometimes engineers when they drain their fields but they are not engineers when they are rearing their livestock, I do not think, unless I am in some way misled.

The Bill then refers to ecology. Ecology has to do with a variety of things--mushrooms and newts. Ken Livingstone would be an engineer under this definition, I imagine. There must be some mistake here.

I move on to metallurgy, which is near enough. My old friend, but not noble friend in the sense that it is used in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, is a metallurgist, and he is a chartered engineer because we permit metallurgists to describe themselves as chartered engineers.

I move on to the reference to chemistry. The most notable chemist I know from recent years is the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher. However, with all her virtues, she is not an engineer; she is a chemist. My younger brother is also a chemist, but he would be affronted to

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be described as an engineer. We know that there are chemical engineers, but chemists are not engineers. Indeed, the word "chemist" is used in Scotland to describe pharmacists who are most emphatically not engineers. However, that is another matter.

The next item is biochemistry, to which the same applies, followed by physics. Some practitioners in physics are engineers, that is most usually so if they happen to be electrical engineers. However, most practitioners of physics are not electrical engineers. Therefore, to include physics under the general heading of "Engineering" is--I hesitate to use the word "ignorant"--preposterous. In a way, the whole paragraph is gathered together both roughly and readily under sub-paragraph (f) which refers to,

    "any other form of engineering or technology analogous to those mentioned in sub-paragraphs (a) to (e)",

which I suppose is meant to include the people I have mentioned as having been left out; namely, chemical engineers, petroleum engineers, naval architects, and so on. Indeed, this set of definitions is a rag-bag and is almost entirely useless.

I have been asked by the Engineering Council to refer to the clause and propose a rather simple amendment to it. In doing so, I shall look further up page 51 of the Bill and to paragraph 10 which refers to, "The services of architects". I believe that we all understand what an architect is--or do we? We know that an architect is a man who designs buildings, houses and things of that nature and makes them rather lovely, and so on. However, in professional terms, an architect is someone who is registered under what used to be called ARCUK. I know that that name has recently been changed but, unfortunately, I cannot quite remember the new name. Perhaps my noble friends on the Front Bench will be able to tell me. However, the service of an architect must refer to one who is registered, otherwise it does not mean an architect at all because the title of "architect" is protected.

I propose now to move on to rather shaky ground; indeed, rather thin ice. I say that because the title "engineer" is not, unfortunately, protected in the same way as that of an architect. My amendment suggests that we leave out that farrago--that misleading collection of titles--and quite simply insert the words,

    "chartered or incorporated engineers and engineering technicians".

It is quite possible that all those words should carry capital letters, but I suppose that that would be too presumptuous. What we need is a simple definition of "engineer" here which is understood in the profession rather than this "Whitehallese" which is quite un-understandable.

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