asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress he has had in discussions with the professional associations representing surveyors following the report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the supply of surveyors' services with reference to scale fees.
Certain of the recommendations of the Commission concern services which may be subject to the restrictive trade practices legislation following the Restrictive Trade Practices (Services) Order 1976. I understand that this matter is at present the subject of proceedings in the Restrictive Practices Court.Survices of quantity surveyors are specifically excluded from the restrictive trade practices legislation. Accordingly, I and the Director General of Fair Trading have discussed action to follow the report with one of the professional associations involved, the Institute of Quantity Surveyors. The institute has written to inform me that its council has approved amendments to the Institute's byelaws which will make it clear that scales of professional charges authorised by the institute are not mandatory but are recommended for guidance of members who are free to settle charges that do not conform to those scales. Members will be expected to agree charges with clients and set out in any agreement the services to be supplied by the quantity surveyor. The byelaw which formerly prevented members from competing with one another on the basis of fees has been replaced by a new byelaw allowing competition on the basis of fees subject to a safeguard that the fee once formally submitted may not later be revised solely to take account of fees quoted by other quantity surveyors for the same service. The institute will continue to publish the scales of professional fees recommended for the guidance of its members and subsequent amendments are to be published in the journal of the institute.The institute has also informed me that any fee scales published in future by the institute will carry a form of words to make clear that the scales are recommended for the guidance of members and that clients and surveyors are free to settle fees which do not conform to these scales.
I consider that the amendments to the byelaws allowing competition on fees, in conjunction with the labelling of the fee scales to make clear that they are for guidance only, appear to go a long way towards remedying the adverse effects identified by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report so far as the Institute of Quantity Surveyors is concerned. I have, therefore, informed the institute that I am willing to accept them. I do not at present propose to set up an independent committee to determine fee scales as the Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommended.
I have also been in touch with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and I hope that discussions will be held shortly with it and with other surveyors' associations which have restrictive rules