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The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) governs the veterinary profession through its Council and system of committees. This includes the two statutory committees that deal with disciplinary proceedings - the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) and Disciplinary Committee (DC). RCVS Council both sets the standards for the profession and, through these statutory committees, deals with any possible breaches of those standards, thus there is an overlap of functions. This system is now considered to be inflexible, insufficiently impartial and out of date when compared to the ‘best practice’ seen in other comparable professions. The proposed amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 will separate this overlap of functions thus reflecting better the role of RCVS in balancing public and professional interests. In addition, the current legislation restricts the size of the committees making it difficult for them to manage the caseload, a situation which is unsustainable for the future.
It is proposed that these reforms be made by means of a Legislative Reform Order (LRO) under Sections 1 and 2 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 (LRRA). The intention is to use the LRO to amend the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 that determine the size and membership of PIC and DC.
This consultation was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and the terms of the Government’s Code of Practice on Written Consultations.
Legislative Reform Order
The Legislative Reform Order (LRO) to amend the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 relating to the constitution of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) disciplinary committees (Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) and Disciplinary Committee (DC)) was laid before Parliament on 5 November 2012. The Regulation will be made early 2013 and will come into force in April.
The proposed amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act will separate the overlap of functions between those who set the standards (RCVS Council) and those who investigate (PIC) and adjudicate (DC) possible breaches of those standards - statutory committees currently constituted from Council members. The new reform will:
- Promote the five principles of good regulation i.e. proportionate; accountable; consistent; transparent and targeted;
- Comply with Human Rights Act 1998 - primarily Article 6 of Schedule 1 - right to a fair trial.
Our view is that the new arrangement will further enhance the effectiveness of the disciplinary process.