President's column

Ray Miller writes on archives and statutory regulation.
For every wise saying there is another wise saying that says the opposite! No wonder philosophy is confusing. In this case our contenders are George Santayana’s ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ and Henry Ford’s ‘History is more or less bunk’.
For every wise saying there is another wise saying that says the opposite! No wonder philosophy is confusing. In this case our contenders are George Santayana’s ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ and Henry Ford’s ‘History is more or less bunk’.

I’m on the side of Santayana, who also said, ‘There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.’

What brought this to mind was reading Julie Perks article for this issue, promoting the importance of archives (p.722). Her insights into the work of Spearman are fascinating. The Society has been in existence for 105 years. In some ways that seems a short time. Yet, looking back, the foundations of many concepts we take for granted are not much older. If retaining these records is important now, how much more important will they be to future generations distanced yet further by time and forgetfulness?

Although some of the Society’s archive is currently in storage, the major parts of interest to historical researchers are available at our Tabernacle Street office. Two decisions were taken by the Trustees. The first was that the future of the archive might be best assured if we could collaborate with a major national institution that has the resources and expertise to develop and maintain it as it deserves. The second was that the space in the new London offices, in high demand for member activities, would not be a cost-effective location for what would, at best, have been a limited access archive. Negotiations are already under way to find the collection a suitable permanent home,
and we expect it will continue to be available to intrigue and inspire psychological historians for the next 105 years and beyond. We are also considering how technology might make it easier for all members to browse and explore.

There was a prestigious opening ceremony for our new London offices on 19 October (see p.747) with an address from guest of honour Professor David Cope, Director of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). He spoke warmly of how our Society has developed an innovative and fruitful relationship with POST, enabling psychological science to make a significant contribution to parliamentary debate and policy. 30 Tabernacle Street has been designed to satisfy members’ needs for a London venue that can not only host committee meetings but workshops, symposia and even small conferences in comfortable and well-equipped surroundings.
It’s good to see that bookings by members and subsystems are already growing rapidly. Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive and the building represents a sound investment, enabling us to meet our aim of bringing psychology to society and supporting the activities of members.

Strenuous activity in the last month has inevitably focused on statutory regulation. Our detailed response to the Foster review was dispatched to meet the deadline of 10 November and the feedback from members and subsystems gave it overwhelming endorsement. I’d like again to thank you all for your input. We were also particularly pleased that eight other leading professional organisations, representing over 100,000 members delivering services based in psychological knowledge and skills, joined with us to issue a public statement of concerns over the government’s proposals. This level of collaboration across the professions has not been seen before now, and it is to be hoped that the government recognises the strength of the case we are making. We have launched a campaign to ensure that politicians are fully aware of our concerns with adverts in the Westminster House Magazine and individual meetings with members of both the Westminster and Scottish parliaments as well as the House of Lords. Other key individuals and organisations are being approached and we are seeking to reach out to those who use psychological services as well as those responsible for commissioning or delivering them.

Equally importantly we have taken the positive step of producing a model showing how the psychological professions could be effectively regulated to achieve a level of public protection that would gain the confidence of public and professionals alike. Nine organisations have united in commending this model to the government, preferably with a view to a separate, independent regulator but certainly as an indicator of the basic requirements for any regulation governing professions engaged in psychologically based practice.

I wrote again to you recently to keep you informed and indicate how you can still play a crucial part. It will remain for the archive of the future to record the outcome but I can recall no time in the past when the profession has been so united in its purpose nor so determined to ensure that public confidence in psychologists and their services must remain founded in high standards of professional education, knowledge and practice. Let’s make history!

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