THE VOLUNTARY licensing scheme being proposed by the Engineering Council received a confused and generally cool response from ICE's Council.
Discussion was based on a report from EngC's Board for Engineers Regulation working group concerned with licensing of competent persons, on which EngC had invited comment from engineering institutions by Monday this week. Papers before Council included an initial reply to EngC from ICE's Director General & Secretary, dated 22 May.
'Our preliminary view is that voluntary licensing in limited and carefully prescribed areas of work should be carefully considered,' said DG&S Roger Dobson's letter. 'In any system, we would want to maintain the assessment in our own hands and do not believe it is practical, or necessary, to use third parties.'
Dobson had told EngC: 'We already demand high standards of performance and of CPD from those on our lists of arbitrators and adjudicators and we have a policy of reassessment every five years in place. This is an example of voluntary licensing. It is important to distinguish between this form of scheme and one which has a statutory basis, such as licensing of Reservoir Engineers, where this Institution is named in an Act and acts in conjunction with the DETR.'
Commenting on a firm proposal by the working group, Dobson's letter stated: 'We do not believe there is any benefit in using the title 'licensed engineering practioner'.'
This sentiment was backed in the Council meeting by Terry Mulroy: 'Car drivers and publicans have to be licensed,' he declared. 'Only a peer group can achieve accreditation.'
Vice president Roger Sainsbury thought the response of ICE should be 'even more robust'. Wilson warned: 'What other institutions are finding is that they are being bypassed by accreditation schemes.'
Scott Steedman declared: 'It would be a great pity if this Institution was not to take a lead,' and Peter Cameron emphasised that Council should 'go back to local associations' with some information on the proposals.
After some debate, past ICE president Robin Wilson, who chairs BER, was asked by Sir Alan Cockshaw to prepare a briefing paper to 'see to it that members of the (ICE) Council have a more informed view' and to enable the associations to be more formally consulted.
Summarising, Dobson asked for authority to give a more forceful reply to the EngC. He questioned whether ICE would get added value by having schemes accredited by a third party. The DG&S asked Council whether the Institution should 'take the next step' and have an accreditation scheme, but no vote was taken.