The annual CPD Foundation Harris Debate, instigated in 2013 through a suggestion and financial contribution made by RICS Past President Jonathan Harris CBE, is an annual seminar on an engaging and highly topical theme, attended by an invited audience and broadcast live online.


Ethics was chosen as the theme for the first debate, 'Ethics: lost in translation'. Subsequent events have used the theme to explore the role ethics plays in corporate, and professional life. The recordings of the live broadcast are posted on the Harris Debate playlist on the RICS YouTube channel.

This year’s Harris Debate comes as RICS begins a year-long programme of events to celebrate RICS’ 150th anniversary. The anniversary is an ideal moment to look afresh at what we mean by public advantage in a 21st Century context. How are our ideas of societal benefit different now as a globalised profession than they were in Victorian England?

Dr Malik set the context for the debate, speaking on 'The history of moral thought, and the origins and evolution of human values'.

There followed a panel discussion – debating questions such as:

  • To whom are professionals accountable? – clients, citizens and/or society?
  • How can “morality” guide professionals through the complexity of compliance?
  • What does effective leadership on “public advantage/public good” look like?
  • And, as a practitioner, where does the balance lie between compliance through culture and compliance through enforcement?

The recording of this year’s debate is here.

On the panel

Chair - Lord Bichard KCB

Lord Michael Bichard has held senior roles in local government as Chief Executive at both Brent and Gloucestershire Councils. His Whitehall career included appointments as Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Employment. Lord Bichard is currently Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

Speaker and Panellist – Dr Kenan Malik

A monthly columnist for The International New York Times, Kenan’s most recent book is The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics published by Atlantic. He has also written and presented radio and TV documentaries including Disunited Kingdom, Are Muslims Hated?, Islam, Mullahs and the Media, and Man, Beast and Politics.

Panellist - Phillip Blond, Director, ResPublica

Phillip is an internationally recognised political thinker and social and economic commentator. He founded ResPublica in 2009 and is an academic, journalist and author. Phillip’s recent reports, such as Restoring Britain’s City States: Devolution, public service reform and local economic growth (2015), have driven policy change in city deals and health devolution. Through both his writing and speaking, he argues for a new economic and social politics based around free association and group formation, new forms of capitalisation and market entry.

Panellist - Francesca Berriman MBE, CEO, Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists

Completing our panel is Francesca Berriman MBE, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, representing professionals practising and studying Architectural Technology. The CIAT is present throughout the UK and in seven “centres” worldwide. Francesca led the Institute in gaining its Royal Charter in 2005 and its recognition as a Competent Authority within the European Union. In addition, Francesca is a Trustee of the Building Research Establishment, and a Council member of both the Society for the Environment and the Construction Industry Council (CIC). 

Comments (1)

  1. An interesting discussion and debate regarding ethics and accountability within the profession. The level of self sustained discipline in ethical values versus restrictions imposed by the governing body. How we can represent the profession and show it in the best light to the general public etc.

    Jacob Cope Jacob Cope, 31 December at 11:26AM

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